Despite a promising performance from the Spec 3 Honda PU in FP2, Alonso’s frustrations have continued this afternoon after having to return to the Spec 2 unit due to a “concern” over his Spec 3 unit after an inspection last night. It was decided that “it was not worth the risk”.
Today Alonso missed Q3 by a tenth. He managed to post an 8th fastest in FP2 and team manager Eric Boullier told the press that initial data looked quite promising and they felt reasonably competitive. However, Honda later found the problem overnight.
TEAM BOSS BOULLIER HAS SAID:
“While starting tomorrow’s Grand Prix from 12th and 13th feels a little disappointing after the practice pace we’ve shown at times this weekend, it’s probably a fair reflection of where we are. “Looking at the timesheets, we were frustratingly close to getting both cars into Q3 this afternoon – and a couple more tenths would have safely moved up us into the top 10. Nevertheless, starting both cars on the fringes of the top 10 gives us an opportunity to move forwards tomorrow. “It would be fantastic to come away from this weekend with some points – that’s certainly our ambition – and I think we’ve got a realistic chance of achieving that if we can maintain this positive direction in the race tomorrow.”
The only positive for the team was that because Alonso had used the Spec 2 engine before they are not facing any further penalties for the change. I doubt this will be any consolation for Fernando as he will feel that they have taken another step backwards while many other teams and his own teammate seem to be moving on.
It is worth noting that despite only being 8th fasted on Friday, Alonso did manage to beat the last standing lap record of the Red Bull Ring / A1 Ring set by Schumacher in 2003.
STAY OF EXECUTION?
Naturally, this will not help the team keep hold of the Spaniard who has recently been linked with a possible Ferrari drive next year. Alonso has famously given the team till the summer break to give him a race winning car or he will look elsewhere.
Earlier today it was reported in the Spanish press that McLaren was feeling they would rather spend the money the driver costs on future development. If rumours are true then this could put him in a difficult position. I do not believe that Renault is fast enough to meet his demands and Briatore insists it will be with one of the “top two teams”
He has form, and bruised knees with both, and frankly I don’t believe they need him anything like he needs them. If Raikkonen does leave, there is a chain of people wanting the seat. He would be my choice, and I feel the summer deadline from Alonso and Ferarri saying they are in no rush to distract their drivers with contracts just yet are correlated. Something is being anticipated. I am suspecting that the issue is more like performance clauses to be triggered, which will save lots of millions should changes need to be made.
Alonso has already stated that McLaren having a Mercedes next year would not change his decision, so what is he waiting for?
The PU problems for Alonso this weekend may be a frustration for the Spaniard (his team mate will continue with the Spec 3 update) and another team as although they have not proved they can deliver a faster car, they haven’t proved they can’t, which was probably the only card McLaren could play.