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Fernando Alonso says McLaren face 'three important weeks'

More frustrations for team after Button fails to start Bahrain GP

Jenson Button's broken McLaren

Fernando Alonso says McLaren face “three important weeks” after further frustration for the team in Bahrain.

While the Spaniard finished just outside of the points in 11th, Jenson Button’s race was over even before it had begun after McLaren detected a chronic problem with his MP4-30. In what was surely the most ignominious weekend of the former world champion’s career, Button had been due to start the race from the back of the grid after his car failed in qualifying and he left the circuit long before the chequered flag fell.

“During the fire-up we noticed data that indicated an unresolved issue originating from the electrical glitches that had struck during the practice sessions,” confirmed team boss Eric Boullier.

“We believed that there was a significant likelihood that the issue would recur in running, and would indeed eventually scupper Jenson’s race. We tried our best to fix it but, sadly, we weren’t able to find a remedy in time for the start.”

Since rejoining forces with Honda amid a blaze of optimism for the new season, McLaren are yet to score a point this term and remain at least two seconds a lap adrift of runaway leaders Mercedes.

“There are many things to be done and we have three important weeks now when we have to increase the performance, increase the reliability,” said Alonso. “So I am optimistic for the future because the steps are going in the right direction, but a lot of things need to be done.”

“It is feeling better, today we ran competitive, we finished ahead of Sauber and were fighting with Toro Rosso and Red Bull. So definitely a step forward, but have to put many things in place and the next coming weeks are important to improve the performance.

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“Spain is my home grand prix, Monaco is less power dependant, so there are interesting races coming for us. We just need to maintain focus and maximise those.”

Fernando Alonso was able to fight other teams

The sight of Felipe Massa’s Mercedes-powered Williams breezing past Alonso’s McLaren midway through the race - which ultimately was for the final points position - was a stark illustration of the power deficiency the team are currently grappling with and the team will be under mounting pressure to deliver sweeping upgrades to the MP4-30 in time for the Spanish GP at the start of May.

“The next race is three weeks hence, which affords us time sufficient in which to prepare further upgrades. We’ll make no predictions as to where they’ll place us, pace-wise, relative to our chief current competitors, but we expect that upward trend in performance to remain linear and palpable,” added the increasingly verbose Boullier.

“Clearly, we aren’t satisfied with our level of competitiveness – our team exists to win – but we’ve made gargantuan strides since the Australian Grand Prix and that’s been a result of a tremendous effort by a large number of people, all of whose passion and commitment I hereby take the opportunity to salute.

“I believe the way we’ve approached the task in hand has been characterised by honesty, humility and hard graft, and that’s how we’ll continue to approach it.

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: we still have a mountain to climb, but climb it we will; of that you may be 100 per cent certain.”

Catch the F1 Midweek Report on Wednesday April 22 at 8:30pm on Sky Sports F1. Marc Priestley and Mark Gillan join Natalie Pinkham to analyse the Bahrain Grand Prix.

F1 Midweek Report

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