Fernando Alonso says McLaren needs to use the Austrian Grand Prix to get a better understanding of the MCL33 after a poor showing in France.
After missing out on point-scoring finishes in both Monaco and Canada when Alonso retired from the top 10, McLaren was uncompetitive at Paul Ricard last weekend and neither driver escaped Q1. Alonso is keen to put the last race behind him but says McLaren needs to work out how to get the car back to a more competitive level having scored points with both cars in three of the opening four races.
“After a disappointing result, the best thing you can do is move on, so it’s good that we have another race this weekend,” Alonso said. “And the weekend after. I like this track — it’s a good mix of the new and the old. The big hills, the gradient and the compact nature of the paddock all remind you that this was once one of F1’s grand old venues; but the modern facilities are also a fantastic addition.
“The lap itself is great: It’s a place you have to constantly attack in order to get a good lap time, and, while there are only really five corners, they’re always ready to bite if you over-commit.
“I think we go to Austria looking to deepen our understanding of the car. We’re making progress, and we will get there.”
Despite the recent struggles, McLaren is still fifth in the constructors’ championship, 12 points clear of Force India. Racing director Eric Boullier had challenged his team to provide a reliable car in France but Alonso again failed to finish as a suspension issue ended his races in the final laps, so it’s a similar message from the Frenchman ahead of Austria.
“After a couple of difficult races, we’ll be looking for a smooth and reliable weekend on both sides of the garage,” Boullier said. “Fernando’s recent retirements have been frustrating, so it would be good to see him get to the finish this weekend.”