Fernando Alonso says grand prix podium goal might not be too far away for McLaren-Honda in 2016..
The Spaniard opened his points account at Sochi with a strong sixth place, although he admitted the result flattered the true pace of the Anglo-British team’s package.
“We are happy with how things are going and we want to win, but Mercedes is in another league,” Alonso told Spanish radio Cadena Cope this week.
“In 2016 we started slowly but we are always improving in leaps and bounds, race after race, and always with high expectations,” he added.
“Everything we introduce is as expected, but in Russia we were also lucky. It is a circuit that favours us and we also benefited from several accidents in a race that was not normal,” said Alonso.
McLaren-Honda at least had a good weekend when it comes to reliability, with Alonso contrasting a “perfect” Sochi 2016 to “the races last year when more or less we were tossing a coin for things to go wrong”.
The continuing Achilles Heel, however, is the Honda power unit, amid suggestions the Japanese manufacturer will take its time to introduce upgrades this year.
“In the next few races we are going to get very important things in terms of aerodynamics and the chassis,” said Alonso. “It’s not envisaged that there is anything important for the engine in the next races but the goal of having the best chassis on the grid is getting closer.
“In Barcelona we will basically have a new car,” he revealed. “Until we get something for engine power, let’s think about going fast in the corners.”
“Circuits like Barcelona and Monaco are coming where the chassis is important and the engine not so much. Then we have a good chance,” he predicted.
“I think that with more improvements and a little more power, and a race such as Russia where we finished sixth with relative ease, why can’t we finish second or third? There are 17 grands prix remaining and we will not throw in the towel,” he added.