Mercedes looking for more reliability as Malaysia beckons

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It’s back to work this weekend for Mercedes in Malaysia after a mixed bag overall in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

Nico Rosberg had a splendid drive in Melbourne to capture the checkered flag but the Silver Arrows did not completely escape new-car reliability issues as former World Champion and pole sitter Lewis Hamilton bowed out due to an engine problem in the opening laps.

The W05 appears to be the car to beat so far in this new era of Formula One, but as shown by Hamilton’s disaster, it’s not a bulletproof piece. It will be interesting to see if the car’s reliability can catch up to its already stout pace.

Throw in the fact that Merc is heading to the home country of title sponsor Petronas, and it’s most certainly a very important weekend for the early front-runners.

“As one of our home races, we are extremely motivated to get a good result here,” Toto Wolff said in a team release. “The first race in Australia left us with mixed emotions. Neither of our drivers put a foot wrong all weekend but unfortunately, only one came away with the result he deserved.

“We know that reliability will be crucial to this long season and we have been working hard to improve the situation for the race in Malaysia. We made a solid start to the year in Melbourne, but we are very aware that not one percent of effort can be dropped if we are to remain competitive.”

Rosberg himself echoed Wolff’s comments, saying that while Melbourne made for a “perfect start” to his campaign, it also highlighted the need for reliability with these new V-6 powered machines.

“We’ve had two weeks before this race to identify all the things that we can do better, so hopefully we can bring both cars home for a good result this weekend and continue our strong start to the year,” the German said.

Meanwhile, Hamilton is looking to bounce back at Sepang International Circuit, where he’s hit the podium in the last two seasons but has yet to win at.

“Although [Australia] was not the result we were hoping for, every setback is a chance to learn more about this new car, which is important as they’re incredibly complex machines,” the Brit said. “I know the team at Brackley and Brixworth is pushing harder than ever and I’ll be doing the same.”

Alonso would be ‘very happy’ to finish F1 career with McLaren

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Fernando Alonso says he would be “very happy” to see out his Formula 1 career with McLaren after signing a new multi-year contract with the British team, announced on Thursday.

Alonso, 36, ended speculation about his future by agreeing a new deal with McLaren, hopeful of returning to the front of the field next year when the team swaps Honda power for Renault engines.

Alonso admitted to considering options outside of F1 before agreeing to stay at McLaren, and was thought to only be chasing a one-year extension in order to be in a position to snap up a more attractive seat in the volatile 2019 market.

However, Alonso confirmed in an interview with the official F1 website that the deal with McLaren stretched beyond the end of next year, adding he would be content to see out his time in the sport with the team.

“I never talk about contracts, but one thing I can say is it is a long-term partnership,” Alonso said.

“I am very happy to finish my career at McLaren. So I don’t think it is going to be only one year.”

Alonso also revealed he had options with teams high up the field in F1 for 2018 just a couple of months ago, but was always leaning to staying at McLaren despite not scoring a podium with the team in almost three years.

“There were some other options in F1. In the summer there were still some options at the top teams, but my desire was to stay with McLaren,” Alonso said.

“But at that time they were in conversation with different engine suppliers, so I had to give them time to sort out their situation.

“Then McLaren opted for a Renault engine which delayed my decision, because I had to understand what Renault’s plans were for next years.

“But when I had everything on the table, everything was pretty clear.”