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- Updated: March 13, 2018
McLaren driver Fernando Alonso doesn;t think that Honda’s impressive performance in pre-season testing with Toro Rosso is a true indicator of how much the engine manufacturer has improved.
The Japanese outfit parted ways with McLaren at the end of the 2017 campaign and now powers Red Bull’s junior squad.
Honda’s performance in Spain was not only a departure from its mediocre state of affairs with McLaren, it was also a clear testimony to the apparent remarkable progress the manufacture enjoyed over the winter.
As far as Alonso is concerned, it was still the right decision for his team to cut ties with Honda and he suggested that the problems that plagued their tenure with McLaren could resurface in the opening race of the upcoming season at the Australian Grand Prix.
“I have no problem with Honda,” the Spaniard told Spanish radio Onda Cero. “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,” he added.
“We are very happy with the change to Renault — we have improved four seconds compared to last year.”
While McLaren seems to be in better hands after partnering with Renault, it was anything but clear sailing for the Woking-based outfit during pre-season testing, with a series of reliability issues impacting the team’s development programme.
While Alonso has not won a race since the Spanish Grand Prix in 2013, the two-time world champion said that McLaren’s troubles were now a thing of the past.
“I do not see any reason to be pessimistic,” he said.
“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.”
He did, however, admit that McLaren won’t be able to compete against the likes of Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari.
“McLaren can jump from being ninth to being close to them and fighting in the race,” said Alonso.
“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.”