FEBRUARY 27, 2019
Alonso's bag of experienced tricks
By Dan Knutson
Fernando Alonso, in his new role as advisor and ambassador for McLaren, will advise the team's drivers and engineers. And he will drive at selected tests to support the development of MCL34 and MCL35 for 2020.
So just what support will the veteran driver give?
"I think first of all this car we are running today was born in June last year," said Alonso who was attending the second preseason test at Barcelona. "That is when we identified our problems, our weaknesses, our philosophies that were wrong with the 2018 car. And we started discussing and having meetings plus simulator work for the 2019 car. Now, the 2019 car is a reality and it is running on track. Probably some of the results that they (McLaren's new drivers Lando Norris and Carlos Sainz) are having, they don't know the background of those changes or that philosophy that is behind that design. I think that is something that I can give my input on.
"Also, after 18 years I probably know most of the circuits, most of the tricks here and there. With Lando being in his first year, anything that may appear on a grand prix weekend, Saturday or Sunday morning (for him), maybe having a driver behind the engineers thinking probably helps. They only see the telemetry, they analyze and make decisions looking at the telemetry. I can be the link of what they see on the data and to what the driver is feeling or what the message the driver is passing through the radio. Hopefully I can help as much as I can."
Alonso will be at the F1 races about half of the time because of his racing commitments with the WEC calendar and the Indy 500. But even when he is not at the track Alonso will be linked by either email, video conference or he will be at the McLaren factory on the simulator or in the debriefs.
Have Alonso and McLaren already discovered some of the problems with the new car?
"Yes, I think we are learning a lot," Alonso said. "Even last week I was in contact with the team, and I was aware of the debriefs and all the small problems and issues that we were finding. I think this week we confirmed the picture of the car. So there are a couple of areas they need to revise and they need to keep developing to improve the performance. Some other areas are surprisingly good, so they are happy with the results and generally I think it has been a very positive two weeks. It is not perfect yet but the direction is the right one."