Canadian Grand Prix – McLaren’s Fernando Alonso was left on the sidelines of a Grand Prix for the second consecutive event, after problems with his car forced him out.
Alonso, who had been a surprise lowly Q2 exit in Saturday qualifying, went into the race on Sunday optimistic of scoring points. A strong opening half of the race had seen the McLaren rise up into the points paying positions, including a great squabble with the man who is quickly becoming Alonso’s 2018 nemesis: Sauber’s Charles Leclerc.
However, Alonso slowed dramatically on Lap 40 and onboard footage showed that while his car still had power and was driving, it was hitting quite a low rev limit and he was forced to return to the pits and retire. With Red Bull Racing and Renault showing much greater competitiveness with the same engines as McLaren, Alonso says he’s getting frustrated with the situation as it stands:
“It’s sad, frustrating and I’m disappointed with this result. We weren’t competitive this weekend. We need to find more performance in the car and a way to become competitive. Reliability is also important, as we saw at the beginning of the year how many points we scored and how many we’ve lost now in the last two races, by retiring today and retiring in Monaco when we were running in seventh position.”
McLaren later revealed that a broken charge air cooler pipe caused him to lose boost pressure, explaining why he was able to maintain some semblance of drive.
“The race was fun at the beginning, especially after the restart, when we overtook three cars in two corners. Sergio [Perez] was on the grass sideways and came back onto the track, so it was difficult to anticipate what line he would have taken. Then halfway through the race, I felt a loss of power and was told to retire.” Fernando Alonso
“There are a few areas of the car that we need to keep working on and improving, and we’ll see what happens in the next couple of months.”
Alonso’s immediate F1 future appears to be in doubt, with many rumours suggesting he is on the verge of leaving the sport in favour of chasing the prestigious Triple Crown of motorsport. These are the Monaco Grand Prix, the Indy 500 & the Le Mans 24 Hours. Having won at Monaco, Alonso attempted the Indy race last year and was a serious contender until his Honda engine let go in the latter stages of the race. Le Mans is next on his hit list, and the Spaniard quickly put his Montreal retirement behind him as he rushed to catch a plane to France.
Alonso competes in this weekend’s race at Le Mans as a member of one of the crews favourite to win the event outright, competing with the factory Toyota team in one of their LMP1 entries.
“I’m flying tonight to France, as tomorrow I need to be in Le Mans. It will be a busy week and a new experience, and I’m definitely looking forward to it.”