McLaren racing director Eric Boullier says that star driver Fernando Alonso “can’t wait” to get behind the wheel and try out the team’s new-spec 2017 Formula 1 car later this month.
In a bid to make F1 cars multiple seconds per lap faster and look more radical, a number of significant changes have been made to the sport’s technical regulations for 2017.
Alonso, 35, has long-stated that he would consider his future in F1 after trying out the new-spec cars, having grown disillusioned with the current formula that has been in place since 2014.
Speaking to Sky Sports, Boullier stressed that Alonso remained as motivated as ever ahead of the new campaign and is raring to get into action.
“He’s been working very, very hard this winter and he’s really ready and eager,” Boullier said.
“He drove this kind of car, or even faster car, in the past so he knows what to expect.
“He can’t wait to drive the car. He drove it in the simulator but it’s not the same. I’m sure he can’t wait to drive it on the track and see if it’s delivering what we expect.”
Alonso will be joined at McLaren for 2017 by Stoffel Vandoorne, who steps up into a full-time seat after winning the GP2 title in 2015 and finishing fifth in last year’s Super Formula standings.
The high levels of downforce afforded by the new cars are set to place a greater stress on drivers’ bodies, making pre-season preparation more crucial than ever.
Boullier believes that Vandoorne may have a period of adaptation as he gets used to the new cars, but is confident that the Belgian is well prepared for the season ahead.
“Stoffel never drove such a high-downforce car or high-energy car, so he may have a couple of days to suit his body just to make sure he’s fit,” Boullier said.
“But he also worked very hard over the winter, he’s ready. They’re both ready.”
The new F1 season begins on March 26 in Melbourne, Australia.