The significant changes McLaren made during the 2018 season are clearly paying off for the team this year, according to Fernando Alonso.
An internal restructuring last summer resulted in the departures of racing director Eric Boullier, chief technical officer Tim Goss and chief engineering officer Matt Morris. Pat Fry and Andrea Stella moved into senior engineering roles while Gil de Ferran was named sporting director, and Alonso believes that these changes have been a major factor in the team’s improved start to 2019.
“I think we’ve been working a lot for four or five years in the team, and we never had probably the momentum, or never had the continuity or progress,” Alonso said. “We saw some good signs. We finished Bahrain last year, and I was third in the championship or fourth in the championship. We had a good start and some good moments, but never the continuation through the year.
“This year there is a good baseline and good program of development, and I think it’s going to be a much better season. I’m happy. Especially last year, it was a good start, but then we stopped the development probably in May or June, so that was painful until Abu Dhabi. I knew that it was my final season as well, so to run with the same car from Barcelona to Abu Dhabi was painful.”
Alonso got first-hand experience of the MCL34 in Bahrain this week when he carried out tire testing for Pirelli, and while the car was good enough to fight with a Red Bull early in the Bahrain Grand Prix, the double world champion says he has no regrets about retiring from Formula 1 last year.
“I think what I had to achieve in Formula 1 – more than what I ever dreamed – was achieved already in the past. No regrets. If one day I come back into Formula 1, which I doubt because my decision is firm to stop Formula 1, it’s if I [can] win a world championship. That possibility is tempting for any driver. But to finish seventh or sixth, or even fourth, it’s not tempting.”
Lando Norris finished sixth in the Bahrain Grand Prix, giving McLaren its first points of the season and leaving the team fifth in the constructors’ championship after two races.