Fernando Alonso will celebrate his 300th race in Formula 1 at this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix but is expecting McLaren to struggle in Montreal.
McLaren has been less competitive on circuits with a long straight due to a combination of a lack of performance from the Renault power unit relative to Mercedes and Ferrari and a somewhat aerodynamically inefficient car. With the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve requiring good top speed due to its many straights, Alonso is preparing himself for a tough weekend alongside his own personal milestone.
“After a disappointing race in Monaco, I’m already looking forward to heading to Canada,” Alonso said. “It’s a great track and a real test for the driver and the car. It’s claimed many top drivers in the ‘Wall of Champions’ and the Safety Car often plays a role in the outcome of the race.
“I’ve always enjoyed racing in Montreal. It has the best combination of a great track, challenging street circuit characteristics, and it’s a fun city to visit. I’ve enjoyed some great races in Canada and I won there in 2006, so it’s a special place for me. Even more so this weekend, when I’ll be celebrating my 300th grand prix.
“This will certainly be a tough circuit for us, but we’re making progress with our package race-by-race. A little bit of the drama or changeable weather conditions we’ve seen in Canada so many times in the past could offer us some opportunities — it’s up to us to take advantage of every possibility.”
Alonso, who has started 297 of his 299 entries to date, retired from seventh in the Monaco Grand Prix, meaning McLaren has only picked up four points from the last two races and slipped behind Renault in the constructors’ standings. With the gap between the two teams now six points, racing director Eric Boullier wants a top-10 finish in Canada to at least limit any further damage.
“We know it won’t be an easy weekend for us, but it’s important we focus on getting ourselves in the most representative grid slots we can to be able to fight on Sunday,” Boullier said. “We’ve had a couple of difficult weekends, so hopefully in Montreal we’ll be able to see further progress and bring home some points.”