Thuesday, 13 march 2018, 04:33 , by Martin Macdonald
Fernando Alonso has insisted that he has no reason to be "pessimistic" about McLaren's chances of success in the 2018 Formula One season despite the team suffering engine reliability issues during the last round of testing at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona last week.
During the off-season, McLaren terminated their contract with Honda due to concerns over their power unit and eventually selected Renault parts for their vehicle instead.
The change led many to speculate that McLaren could return to their successes of the past, but once again they suffered engine troubles over the winter.
Alonso, however, insists he is not concerned at the moment.
"I do not see any reason to be pessimistic. McLaren is the second best team in history, Renault is one of the best engine makers ever and we are full of ambition. I do not see why it will not turn out well.
"Things have not changed much since the presentation or the plans we had for the winter. We wanted to improve on the last three years and try to get as close as possible to the three best teams. We are on the way to doing that."
The Spaniard reckons that McLaren will improve on their ninth-place finish in the rankings last season, but stopped short of saying that they would compete with the top three - Mercedes, Ferrari, and Red Bull.
"McLaren can jump from being ninth to being close to them and fighting in the race," Alonso continued.
"When we changed to Renault we all agreed that it would be good if McLaren was close to the top three, in the top five in every race possible, always in Q3 and fighting for a podium when we can."
During the troubles with Honda, it was reported that Alonso actually punched a hole in the wall of his quarters after one particular race in which he was forced to retire at the first corner. He claims that he had no problem with the Japanese manufacturer, and was actually surprised when McLaren ended the partnership.
"I have no problem with Honda," said Alonso. "It never crossed my mind to leave."
"But we will see how the Honda is in Australia. They did a good winter test and if they are in the first five I will applaud. But I don't think so. One test is not the same as 21 races with three engines.
"I think they can be in the last three or four positions and we at McLaren will try to be in the first five, six. We are very happy with the change to Renault -- we have improved four seconds compared to last year."
Finally, Alonso confessed that the troubles with Honda power units left him frustrated, but remains optimistic about his future.
"When I lack victory it is hard but I also learned other things. In these years my sights were opened up to other legendary competitions like Indy and the WEC. Everything happens for a reason. Those years had some frustration but now I'm happy because I have become a more complete driver."