Fernando Alonso hopes McLaren is able to produce a step forward in the same manner as Toro Rosso in the coming races after being beaten by the Honda-powered team in the Bahrain Grand Prix.
McLaren outperformed Toro Rosso in the opening race in Australia, with Honda having to modify its MGU-H and turbocharger on both cars after a problem for Pierre Gasly in Melbourne. With the more reliable parts fitted and an aerodynamic upgrade on the car, Toro Rosso was much more competitive in Bahrain and Gasly started from fifth on the grid, finishing fourth after a hugely impressive drive.
While the two McLarens both scored points in seventh and eighth, Alonso – the lead car – was over 40 seconds adrift of Gasly and the Spaniard wants to see similar progress from his team.
“Toro Rosso’s pace can be seen as a surprise or not,” Alonso said. “Seeing all the trouble they had in Australia and where they’re coming from, it’s a surprise, but here we knew that historically Toro Rosso has always been very quick, and it was surprising to see they were even more competitive this weekend.
“But I think that in terms of championship we’ll be ahead of them. They made a huge step forward, so I’m hoping we’ll do the same.”
Focusing on McLaren’s recovery from 13th and 14th on the grid, Alonso describes the race performance as “great” but believes qualifying pace needs addressing.
“The team did a good job with the strategy, the pit stops and reliability, we got the points, good points. Looking at how the weekend started and the pace we had it’s clear we have to improve, to make a step forward. We need to raise our game, because what we have is not enough, but on Sundays we’re delivering the results. Fifth in Australia, seventh here, that’s 16 points, so it’s good.
“What counts most is not your grid position, it’s your race pace, your start, the whole first lap, your tire management, your fuel efficiency – there are a lot of factors and we’re handling better than just qualifying speed. We were too slow in qualifying and need to improve that, because when we start behind we compromise our race result.”