McLaren’s double world champion Fernando Alonso still has his sights set on winning another world championship with current team McLaren. Despite repeated rumours Fernando may quit the woking based team for sportscars in 2017, the Spaniard says he’s going nowhere.
Fernando, considered by many to be the most ‘complete’ driver on the grid, knew it would take time for the McLaren-Honda package to become competitive. This season is year two of the partnership, and there has been signs of encouragement from both the chassis and engine departments. A place on the podium still awaits the Woking based squad, however Alonso remains defiant that the 2017 title still remains a target.
“Next year we want to win the world championship,” Alonso said in an interview with Autosprint. “It may sound strange being where we are, but the goal is that.
“I would like to be ahead more often, but now the situation is what it is. I take it as a maturing project – waiting for better times.”
Alonso alludes to the reasons for his somewhat public criticism of the team and their engine partner in 2015.
“Last year was very difficult, it was painful – because we had problems at tracks that probably could have been solved with testing,” he said. “This year we see that things have improved.
“We may be the team that has improved the most in the last 12 months. The problem is that the other manufacturers have been working for 36 months and is not easy to regain the lead in half the time.
“We have achieved reliability, but we still lack performance. That will come next year. And I’m sure the time will come when we will be best of all.”
Honda made changes to their management structure during the winter break, which saw new boss Yusuke Hasegawa replacing Yasuhisa Arai. Alonso believes this has made a difference. “Progress has come quickly,” he reveals. “The new boss Hasegawa comes directly from racing and is more open to new ideas – and has a different philosophy.
“Things have improved, but we are aware that we are at least eight months behind on our planned objective. Plus there are still small mistakes we make on weekends – like with strategies in qualifying or the race.
“[Incoming CEO Jost] Capito will have to get involved in those aspects, using the inspiration from his previous experiences in other categories. These small changes will help us progress quickly.”
There are few F1 fans in the world who would begrudge Fernando one more championship winning car. Yet whether McLaren-Honda can deliver it, remains to be seen.
However, given the leaps in performance from Renault this season, optimism in the Honda ranks surely must run high.