MANAMA, Bahrain, Apr 17 – Fernando Alonso’s outburst of frustration and Stoffel Vandoorne’s mid-race tweeted photograph summed up McLaren’s failures in Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix and hinted at deeper turmoil ahead.
The Spanish two-time champion said he had never raced with so little power in his life while Belgian new boy Vandoorne posted a picture of him running on a treadmill after another engine failure had prevented him starting.
Both men’s actions underlined the problems at McLaren where a promising chassis has been unable to show its real potential because of Honda’s hapless failure to deliver a reliable and competitive engine.
The team is widely expected now to intensify its efforts to find a solution with partners Honda or to seek a new temporary engine supplier.
Alonso, 35, and in the third and final year of his contract with McLaren, retired his car with an engine failure after a race spent fighting for mid-field positions.
It was his third retirement in three races and may help to explain why he is so keen to take a break and miss the Monaco Grand Prix and take part in the Indianapolis 500 next month.
“I have never raced with less power in my life,” he said in one radio blast. When his team suggested a change of strategy, he said: “Do whatever you want, man.”
Later, Alonso revealed: “The deficit in power and performance we had on the straights was amazing. Sometimes I looked in the mirrors at the beginning of the straights and saw the other cars 300, 400 metres behind…
“So, I forgot completely about that car and started changing settings on the steering wheel and doing my own things, then the next thing I see when I come on the brakes is that car alongside me.
“We were running close to the points but that’s not enough. We never had the pace we had in Australia and China, and, in the end, we had a problem and we decided to retire the car.
“When the red lights go off you’re motivated and you start fighting, but you’re so behind on the straights that there’s no way you can defend your position. You fight in a fair way with everyone, but you don’t enjoy the battle.”
Vandoorne’s social media post was accompanied by a comment in which he wrote: “Going for a run – you guys up to anything this Sunday?”
McLaren’s racing director Eric Boullier said: “What can I say? Fernando failed to finish and Stoffel failed to start. It was a bad day for McLaren-Honda and there is no point in pretending otherwise.”
Alonso has suggested he is ready to consider offers from other teams later this year and reports in Spain have suggested he is already talking to Renault where he won his two world titles.