APRIL 7, 2015
Spaniards defend Alonso after McLaren switch
Two of Fernando Alonso's countrymen have backed the Spaniard to eventually succeed at the wheel of a McLaren-Honda.
McLaren's early 2015 struggle, and his Ferrari successor Sebastian Vettel's Malaysia breakthrough, caused many observers to question Alonso's decision to switch teams over the winter.
But Roberto Merhi, a Spanish rookie for the Manor team, said it is not fair to surmise that Alonso made a poor choice in leaving Ferrari just as it was about to make a giant leap forwards.
"Nobody was expecting them to make that jump," the 24-year-old told the Spanish sports daily Marca.
"Those criticisms of Fernando are not justified. Formula one is a very complex sport, and so choosing a team is often a pure lottery," Merhi said.
"Let's wait and see what happens by the end of the season or maybe even in a couple of years, because he always said that it was a medium-term commitment."
Asked if he thinks McLaren-Honda can improve after its woeful start in 2015, Merhi insisted: "They already have.
"Between Australia and Malaysia they made great progress," he added.
Meanwhile, the president of Spain's motor racing federation, Carlos Gracia, also backed Alonso's decision to leave Ferrari for McLaren.
"The Ferrari story was very complicated," he told El Confidencial newspaper.
"I would have liked to have seen Fernando in this Ferrari, but his prospects now are also very good and we must respect his decision," said Gracia.
"Honda has not returned to be a spectator, and while we talk about Ferrari, McLaren is also a team of great tradition that will use every means to develop the car.
"I think by Spain or Monaco he will begin to be in contention, if not for victory then for a podium," he added.