Fernando Alonso expects McLaren's first points of 2015 at Monaco GP
Spanish driver expecting to be around 10th place for next few races before another step forward after Austria; Jenson Button plays down post-Spain comments and agrees progress being made
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 19/05/15 1:42pm
Fernando Alonso has predicted McLaren-Honda will finally open their 2015 points account at this weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix.
McLaren go into the race they have won more times than any other team still searching for their first top-10 finish of the season after a challenging three-month period since the troubled MP4-30 debuted at the opening pre-season test.
A breakthrough appeared to be edging closer at the last race in Spain when McLaren got both of their cars into Q2 for the first time this year, but the team then experienced a depressing race as Alonso retired with a brake failure and Button finished a lapped 16th after encountering “scary” handling with his car.
Alonso, however, has revealed that McLaren’s simulations had him down to finish in the points at Barcelona and he is therefore confident the team can consistently be in the hunt for the top 10 from now on.
“I think we will get points in Monaco,” the Spaniard told Sky Sports News HQ.
“[In Spain] our simulations until the retirement put us in ninth place, so [that] was already the first opportunity to get the points. In Monaco it will be the second.
“From now on we will always be on the limit of the 10th place for the next two or three races. Hopefully after Austria we will be more secure – seventh, eighth place I hope. That’s the target.”
Alonso, who won the Monaco GP in his previous season at McLaren in 2007, made clear that the team retained higher ambitions for the closing stages of the season.
“The final part of the championship – even if it’s a very ambitious target, I’m very optimistic - we need to be close to the podium positions,” he said.
“The improvements and the targets on the car are to do so, so we need to make sure we deliver that.”
McLaren’s sequence of five point-less already represents their worst start to an F1 campaign with the team only ahead of Manor at the foot of the Constructors’ Championship courtesy of higher race finishes.
While the Honda engine remains down on power relative to the team’s rivals, Monaco’s famously tight and twisty layout places more of a premium on driveability than outright speed.
Button, himself a former winner in the principality, worked on the MP4-30’s handling during his day in the car at last week’s Barcelona test and, despite his outspoken words in the aftermath of the Spanish GP, insists he does continue to see progress too.
“Monaco is a low-speed circuit that doesn’t rely that much on aerodynamic performance, but you do need good balance and driveability. I’m hopeful we can sort out the balance issues we had on my car in the last race, so Monaco should see an improvement,” the Briton said in McLaren’s race preview.
“After a disappointing race in Barcelona, naturally it’s easy to be frustrated when you step out of the car, especially when you feel you deserved more. I firmly believe that we’re making solid progress, which is why having a difficult race is hard to take. However, we’ve put that race behind us and I think we’ve a decent chance of continuing our upward trend in Monaco.”
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