Fernando Alonso: Red Bull's win shows way for McLaren in F1 2018
"McLaren should never be afraid of matching any other team because McLaren should be better than any team," says Alonso
By Jonathan Green at Suzuka
Last Updated: 05/10/17 11:42pm
Fernando Alonso says the pressure is on McLaren to deliver a race-winning chassis in 2018 after Max Verstappen showed the Renault engine's potential with victory at the Malaysia GP.
McLaren are switching to Renault power at the start of next season in a bid to return to the front end of the grid after three years of underperformance with Honda.
The MCL32 is considered to be one of F1's best chassis but Alonso says the way Verstappen was able to pull away from the field in Sepang has increased expectations - and pressure - at the Woking team for next season.
"We saw in Monza a very good performance from Red Bull at a power circuit so we were already quite happy with that performance but in Malaysia it was another step forwards," Alonso said at Suzuka.
"They beat the Mercedes without rain, without any different strategy, without anything so that was good. At the same time that put some pressure on McLaren because that car is quite efficient right now and the Red Bull chassis is quite powerful.
"We need to make sure we do our job on the chassis side because the engine can deliver wins as Red Bull prove. We need to match that performance with the chassis and that is a challenge for sure.
"The challenge is how McLaren can be in front [of Red Bull]. McLaren should never be afraid of matching any other team because McLaren should be better than any other team."
Alonso remains proud of McLaren-Honda project
McLaren-Honda's previous incarnation in the late 1980s and early 1990s had been all-conquering and the present partnership was heralded as the one to break Mercedes' dominance when it was reforged four years ago.
Alonso rejoined McLaren from Ferrari at the start of the reunion with the aim of winning a third world championship, but the reality has been very different with the former superpowers often running in the lower half of the field.
They last finished on the podium in 2014, the season before they reunited with Honda, with their last race win achieved in November 2012.
Three fifth-place finishes from Alonso have been the renewed partnership's best results but the Spaniard remains proud of the project.
"This is the last race with Honda here and after all the difficulties over the last three years, all the lack of results, I am still very proud of this project and it would be nice to end it with a nice race here," he said.
"We are a little bit more optimistic after Malaysia because to have both cars in Q3 there was unexpected. We still need to be concerned that the power sensitivity here is quite high so we will struggle but hopefully not a lot compared to Malaysia.
"To work in a Japanese organisation was quite intense, it was special, a different way of working. We didn't get the results we were expecting, we didn't succeed in our targets and that's a shame.
"But I'm still proud of the work the team achieved with all the difficulties we found in winter testing. We tried to overcome all those problems in as short a period as possible.
"I will always be proud of this project even if the lack of results will say the opposite and be remembered as bad timing and frustrating timing.
"It is now but I really hope for the best for McLaren and Honda in the future as they deserve it."
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