Vandoorne says McLaren slowest car in F1
"We went to the end, but never able to fight for anything"
Fernando Alonso is not the only team driver who is highly critical of former F1 grandee McLaren-Honda’s current predicament.
Many observers have interpreted Alonso’s post-race comments in Melbourne as a clear sign that his patience is finally up, as the Anglo-Japanese collaboration continues to falter for the third consecutive season.
"Optimism? I think what I was able to do this weekend will be impossible to do again," Alonso is quoted by the Spanish press.
He is referring to the fact that he is "proud" of having qualified and raced just outside the points-paying positions in Melbourne, despite having the slowest car in the field.
"I cannot reach the points by myself," Alonso told the Spanish broadcaster Movistar. "When we get to normal circuits, our position will be much further back.
"I never had a better race but I’ve rarely sat in a less competitive car," he added. "In terms of performance, we are the last — we are (the) tenth (team).
"My qualifying lap was extremely good but under normal conditions on a normal track, we should be last and second to last," Alonso said.
Another interpretation of Alonso’s comments is that he is applying pressure amid rumours McLaren is considering dumping Honda to return to top-line Mercedes power.
There are also rumours Alonso could quit McLaren mid-season if this doesn’t happen.
But even his rookie teammate Stoffel Vandoorne sounded highly critical of the McLaren-Honda situation after Australia.
"The only positive point is that I finished the race, because I honestly didn’t expect to," he is quoted by the Belgian newspaper La Derniere Heure.
"We went to the end, but never able to fight for anything. We lack so much power that it is impossible to fight. We’re really driving in another category," added Vandoorne.
"We are more or less last. Our package is really not competitive," he said.
However, Vandoorne might have some reason to be satisfied, because at certain stages of the race he was actually faster than double world champion Alonso.
Vandoorne replied: "I do not value my laptimes compared to Fernando in the situation we are in, especially when he fought in the field and I was more or less alone."
Finally, the 24-year-old said that although his career as a full-time F1 racer has now begun, he is not happy with McLaren-Honda’s situation.
"I’m not happy but that’s normal," said Vandoorne.
"When you’re 3 seconds down, it’s not enjoyable because you’re not really racing.
"We’re getting new parts for China and Bahrain and we’ll try to improve, but we know that it will take time. The next races will be just as difficult," he predicted.