MARCH 24, 2017
Alonso sidesteps Honda axe rumours
Fernando Alonso has refused to comment on speculation McLaren is contemplating dumping its hapless works engine partner Honda.
After a tough opening two years of the Anglo-Japanese collaboration, McLaren is still at the back of the field and struggling for mere reliability due to Honda's new power unit.
One rumour is the McLaren has basically already written off the first four races as it looks towards the return to Europe for the Spanish grand prix in May.
"I don't know. I don't write anything off," Alonso is quoted by the Spanish newspaper El Confidencial.
"We are not here to wait four, six or eight races to improve the situation. That's how formula one works -- it's not a charity."
Some might say that sounds like the Spaniard's endorsement of rumours McLaren must now dump Honda and switch to customer Mercedes power.
Alonso said: "This question is better addressed to the leadership of the team.
"Of course I am aware of the rumours, but I try not to pay attention to them.
"It's frustrating that after two years, everyone is moving forward and Honda is where they were two years ago. Let's hope we can fix the situation -- I asked the team to react strongly and very soon," he added.
Alonso acknowledged that Honda has already made "a lot of changes" between the Barcelona tests and Melbourne, but trackside observers noticed that the Honda engine was making odd 'bang' sounds during practice on Friday.
Yet another rumour is that Honda is not willing to take all the blame for McLaren's situation.
Honda's Yusuke Hasegawa said: "In the last two days of the second test week, the problems were caused by vibrations of the car. It was not just a problem with the engine."
He also seemed to hit back at Alonso's claim that while the new generation of F1 cars is much faster, his McLaren can take almost every corner at full-throttle due to the weakness of the power unit.
"I think the power is better than Abu Dhabi last year," Hasegawa insisted, "but the drag has increased. And as the tyres are wider, the drivers may feel that the speed has dropped."