Australian Grand Prix – Fernando Alonso has already declared the race in Melbourne as McLaren’s “lowest performance” of the season as they bid to rise through the field.
Starting on the fringes of the top ten, the McLaren pairing of Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne took advantage of various issues for other teams to finish fifth and ninth respectively, the team’s best result since the 2016 US Grand Prix.
Alonso was one of the main beneficiaries of the virtual safety car – which was deployed following the double retirement of the Haas team – and he was able to jump to the front of the midfield through the pit stops, finishing ahead of the struggling Red Bull of Max Verstappen.
Whilst the double world champion admitted that McLaren had been fortuitous in the season opener, he was adamant that Red Bull could be a viable target for this season.
“It was a good race, especially considering where we started,” said Alonso.
“Obviously, today we got lucky with the two Haas cars retiring, Carlos’ [Sainz] problem in turn nine, and then overtaking [Max] Verstappen under the Safety Car.
“Let’s say four positions came thanks to some favourable conditions, but we made no mistakes and we capitalised on everything. A perfect job from the team.”
“We should be proud of that, but I think there’s a lot more to come from McLaren. We didn’t maximise the full potential nor squeeze everything out of the package today.
“This is only our first race together with Renault, and some updates will come in the next few races. We can start to look ahead a little bit and Red Bull will be the next target.
“As I said before, this race is probably our lowest performance of this season as things are going to get better and better.”