Fernando Alonso admits he is “apprehensive” about the new McLaren MCL33 due to the importance of the car to the team.
McLaren has not won a race since the end of the 2012 season and notably struggled in partnership with Honda over the past three seasons. The Honda period also marks the full second spell for Alonso at McLaren so far, but expectations are much higher for 2018 after a switch to Renault power units.
While Alonso is keen to see how the new car performs when powered by the French manufacturer, he concedes there is a lot riding on the new partnership for McLaren.
“My winter has felt somewhat shorter than usual, as I’ve already been in the cockpit for a 24-hour race, and several sports car tests!” Alonso said. “That said, I’m really looking forward to getting behind the wheel of a Formula 1 car for the first time in three months.
“Looking at our new car, I feel incredibly excited – but also apprehensive. I know just how important this car is to the team, and I just hope that it delivers in the way we all want it to.
“If we’re able to develop the key strengths of last year’s chassis and marry it to an improved Renault power unit, then I think we’ll be able to take a step forwards. The car certainly looks very neat and well thought-out, and I think the new color looks really great; really eye-catching. I just want to get behind the wheel now!”
The two drivers will shake the car down in Spain on Friday and teammate Stoffel Vandoorne hopes the MCL33 will be reliable during pre-season testing to allow the team to develop it successfully throughout the year.
“The arrival of a new car is always one of the most tense and exciting moments of the season,” Vandoorne said. “For everyone at McLaren, this is an important car; we all know exactly how much rests on it being successful, and we’re all extremely keen to see just how well it performs when we start testing it next week.
“From my perspective, I really hope we can start the season with a stable platform that we’re able to develop quickly and easily. It would be great to have a smooth few weeks of winter testing, and to go to Australia feeling confident about the year ahead.
“I’ve been training hard all winter and feel as ready as I can be to get back into the cockpit. I’m fit and focused, but I’m also relaxed, because I think we’ve had a very productive winter and have designed a very capable new car. I can’t wait to put it to the test.”
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