Alonso has 4 engines left in 2016

It’s a tough way to start your Bahrain Grand Prix weekend but McLaren’s Fernando Alonso will have a new engine already after the ICE used in the Australia was too damaged following a massive crash.

“We have recovered the power unit from Fernando’s car used in Melbourne,” said Yusuke Hasegawa, Honda’s F1 boss.

“After initial investigations, we are massively disappointed that the ICE and most of the surrounding parts have been heavily damaged, as the impact from the accident was just too great. We will be replacing the complete power unit in Bahrain.”

With precious few engines for the entirety of the season, Fernando is already on the back foot this year. You have to hand it to his positive face in the press though:

“Firstly, I’m very pleased to be heading to Bahrain after the crash in Australia. I’ve spent some time resting and I can’t wait to get back in the car,” he said.

“Although on paper Melbourne wasn’t a great race for us, before the crash I’d been having some good battles and the car felt pretty promising, so I hope in Bahrain we can experience more of the same.

“We’re still pushing to bring upgrades to each race, so providing we can get everything to the car in time we’ll be aiming to get as much track time as possible with the new chassis from the start of free practice.”

He’s right though, he was running relatively well compared to last year’s performance and might possibly have scored points if not for the crash with Haas F1 driver Esteban Gutierrez. Regardless, more challenges for McLaren Honda and only the second race into a 21-race season. As Sky points out, having 4 left is an issue considering they used 23 engines between drivers last season.

 

Ferrari guffaw over Fernando, Kimi exit rumors

Whether or not Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen stay at the Italian team is not really up for debate according to the marque’s leader, Luca di Montezemolo, telling BBC:

“Of course, as is the case every summer, there is unfounded gossip about alleged problems with senseless rumours bandied about, such as the ones relating to Alonso’s contract,”

Of course we could consider them silly or goofy stories like Progressive’s “Flo” guessing who’s going where or bundling Ferrari’s driver package. But are they silly?

Many suspect that most driver contracts have performance clauses that work both ways. The team has options should the driver not perform vice versa. Many suggest that Alonso could exercise his clause if a better offer is made with more money and more opportunity.

For a team that has always sought the best drivers, letting Alonso wither on the vine is not a good thing because he’s not Eddie the Eagle out there, he’s liked the human version of an entire GNC supplement store on Red Bull. Ferrari would do well to retain Alonso because they don’t get much better or bigger profile than the double champion.

As for Raikkonen, he knows how to drive but he hasn’t sorted this year’s chassis and that could have one of two effects. As we saw at Lotus, Kimi was an integral part of the team in developing that car and became a clear leader. Ferrari has a clear leader now and it remains to be seen how motivated Kimi will be in sorting out his issues with the car.

Kimi is a professional but he’s also not one to get too emotionally invested in causes bigger than himself so Ferrari may be wise to put all eggs in the Alonso basket and a new egg in the remaining seat should Kimi not work out in 2015.

Regardless, Ferrari are making changes…big changes:

“We are making in-depth changes on both the organisational side, in our approach and culture,” he said.

“We have taken important decisions and have made significant progress, even if, at the moment, the results of all this work are not always visible.

“The aim is to get back to being as competitive as we were before in the shortest possible time.”

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McLaren want long-term driver…who would fit?

McLaren will be getting a new engine for 2015 when Honda re-enters Formula 1 as a supplier but will they be getting a new driver? That remains to be seen but some argue this could be Jenson Button’s last season with the Woking-based team.

Regardless of the rumors, team boss Eric Boullier says that all cards are on the table and McLaren owner Ron Denis even suggested they’d look at a return from Lewis Hamilton or Fernando Alonso. Boullier, however, remains a little more cautious telling AUTOSPORT:

“If any driver becomes available on the market, we will be interested to see if they fit,” Boullier said.

“Our strategy, and I am not going to say we are going to change drivers, is we are in a position to wait.

“So we are going to wait until I understand what is going to be the driver market, not only for next year but also in the future years.

“The plan is to build McLaren for a long term at the top, and we need to know what we are going to do in three, four or five years.”

That doesn’t sound like a long-term plan with Jenson Button to be honest but then it doesn’t sound like a deal that many drivers would sign to be honest. A five year deal is an eternity in Formula 1 and while drivers like a 2-3 year commitment with options, a 5-year deal would most likely have serious caveats and exits clauses embedded.

Building a long-term driver program around a new engine and chassis design for the life of these new regulations is a noble cause but Button may not be a part of that equation. Another question might be centered on the thought of Kevin Magnussen staying that long as well.

If they could get Hamilton or Alonso, that time frame would work given their ages. In Alonso’s case it would be a retirement contract that would see out the remainder of his career and Hamilton would be returning to the team that gave him his big break.

Is there a better long-term driver combination you can think of for McLaren’s aspirations? Would Vettel, Hulkenberg, Bottas or even Ricciardo be a good fit?

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Marquez would like to try an F1 car

Marc Marquez caught up with Fernando Alonso in Mugello before Marquez went on to win his sixth straight Grand Prix.

Marc Marquez caught up with Fernando Alonso in Mugello before Marquez went on to win his sixth straight Grand Prix.

Marc Marquez has confessed that one day he would like to try his hand at driving a Formula One car.

The MotoGP World Champion met fellow Spaniard and double F1 World Champion Fernando Alonso at Mugello on Saturday shortly before taking his sixth pole position of the season.

After claiming his sixth pole in a row, Marquez spoke to about speaking to the Ferrari driver.

“I’ve never met him before and it was so nice to speak with a Formula One driver. It was his first time and he said it was unbelievable to see MotoGP live,” said the reigning MotoGP World Champion. 

“Then we spoke about Formula One. We had the same opinion – if you have a good car, you can [do well] and if you have the worst car it is impossible. The car makes the difference [for success] not the driver. 

“About MotoGP he said that on the TV everything looks easy, that we are so smooth, but when you are here you can see that the bike is moving and sliding all the time. We had the same opinion, that with the bike, with your body and riding style you are able to manage and improve the [performance] of the bike.

“Someday I would like to try. I don’t know when. Not early.”

Of course Valentino Rossi has previously had a stint inside a Ferrari Formula One cockpit, lapping competitively in Valencia. When Marquez was asked what car he would like to test, Marquez remained as switched on commercially as ever. 

“We will see what is the situation, but of course now Red Bull [his personal sponsor]!” 

Marquez was then reminded that Honda will be making a Formula One return with McLaren next year, prompting the 21-year old to change his mind.

“Ah! So [I’d like to try the] Honda car!”

Where’s the Alonso love?

Ferrari have always been about Ferrari. I think we’ve become accustomed to that level of thinking over the decades. Whatever is or isn’t happening at Ferrari these days, it does strike one as odd that they would have a talent such as Fernando Alonso and let the relationship wither on the vine during lean years.

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo can be as apoplectic as he wants because he has every reason to be unhappy with the current form of his Formula 1 team but failing to do the little things that keep his star driver tethered to the team physically and emotionally seems like a rookie mistake or perhaps a trenchant approach to the aforementioned “Ferrari first” mode of thinking.

Arguably—and not very much so—Alonso is the best driver on the grid. Mercedes know this and have said as much with team boss Toto Wolff and Mercedes chairman Dieter Zetsche saying:

“Alonso is probably the best driver on the Formula 1 grid. Fernando has always proven it – and in uncompetitive cars.”

It’s is indeed a bit strange to be praised by other teams who recognize your abilities when the very team you are with has little to say other than hinting at occasionally putting you in your place. Fernando Alonso agreed as AUTOSPORT mentioned:

“It’s always welcome when people see your job in a good way, and respect what you try to achieve,” he said.

“It’s sometimes strange to see good comments and compliments from people from outside, and the opposite from people who are supposed to be close to you.

“It’s motivating for me and good to see good comments, and funny when you see the opposite in your closest friends.”

When your team is off the boil, surely your public comments are centered on finding your way back and what changes need to be made. That’s understandable. But forget the current year—when was the last time you heard Ferrari praise Fernando other than post-race throwaway quotes regarding his fine performance?

Maybe Fernando isn’t the easiest person to work with? Maybe he’s a bit of a prima donna? Regardless, he’s the best hope Ferrari have in winning a race any time soon if the team get the car sorted. The move to bring Kimi Raikkonen back has proven to fall short of any silver bullet to success with Alonso still firmly on top of the head-to-head performance between the two drivers.

If there wasn’t much to this story then it would have died down but Ferrari felt there was enough white noise to offer a formal statement on Thursday saying:

“Fernando is the best driver in the world, who always gives 200 per cent in the races,” di Montezemolo said.

“He knows how much I count on him, even away from the racetrack, in terms of his contribution and the impetus he gives to the team.

“I think it’s incredible that there are still some so-called experts who don’t understand that and are always looking for a polemical situation that simply doesn’t exist.”

See? That wasn’t hard was it? It seems things are not very pleasant these days between the Spaniard and Ferrari and with all the moves at Ferrari over it’s lack of performance, one wonders if Fernando will ultimately be a casualty of the team’s inability to produce a competitive car? It would be a shame as Fernando is the least of their worries at this point and could have been a real savior had they found a modicum of pace in 2014.

Via formula1blog

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