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Fernando Alonso hits out at Honda: ‘No reliability, no power’

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Fernando Alonso has hit out at McLaren’s Formula 1 power unit supplier Honda, saying its engine has “no reliability” and “no power” following a difficult testing program in Barcelona.

Alonso joined McLaren in 2015 when the team rekindled its partnership with Honda, enduring a difficult first season as the Japanese manufacturer struggled to match the offerings of rivals Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault.

After an improved 2016 that saw McLaren finish sixth in the constructors’ championship, hopes were high heading into 2017, particularly given a change in the technical regulations for all F1 teams.

However, McLaren has once again found itself hamstrung by issues through pre-season testing, leaving Alonso and teammate Stoffel Vandoorne to deal with stoppages and a lack of power on-track.

“We are not matching our expectations and we are not as fast as we wanted to be in this winter testing,” Alonso told reporters in Barcelona on Wednesday.

“We are not completing our program, we are not doing the laps that we plan every morning. We are missing some information with the lack of laps, there are always some items they go through to the next day. The next day we cannot complete the program, go to the next day, and now there are only two days left. One for each driver.

“So definitely a little bit behind schedule in terms of reliability, in terms of performance, but this is winter testing and this is what this is all about.”

When asked about the issues with the Honda-powered McLaren MCL32, Alonso stressed that the car itself felt strong, only to be let down by its power unit.

“The chassis, everything feels good, everything feels under control. The car is responding well to changes and everything is working fine,” Alonso said.

“I’m happy with the balance, I’m happy with how I attack the corner. I’m enjoying driving this car, so I don’t think that we are too far back in terms of chassis side.

“We have only one problem: that is the power unit. There is no reliability and there is no power. I think we are 30 km/h down on every straight.

“When you are 30 km/h down on every straight, it is difficult also to have a feeling on the car. Everything feels good, but when you arrive to normal speed you don’t know what is going to happen.”

Hamilton, Red Bull teammates both go to NASA before USGP

Photo: Red Bull Content Pool
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One of the more intriguing United States Grand Prix adventures occurred on Wednesday, as both Lewis Hamilton and the pair of Red Bull Racing teammates, Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen, all went to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston – in separate sessions – before heading onto Austin.

Hamilton posted on his Instagram story on Wednesday that he’d “quit his day job in a second” to work at NASA and become an astronaut, and the unbridled enthusiasm spoke to the three-time Formula 1 World Champion’s love of different life aspects entirely outside of racing.

“(I) had an incredible day yesterday, having a bit of a comedown today,” Hamilton said today at the FIA Press Conference. “I was just buzzed all day yesterday because it’s always been something I’ve wanted to do. It’s always something I’ve been fascinated about, space and space travel particularly.

“So to actually go there… and I had a million questions. I’m sure the guy got fed up with me. I asked a lot of questions and I got to see a lot of great things, some of the new technology they are working on and yeah, I want to go back.”

The Mercedes AMG Petronas team posted a gallery of Hamilton’s adventure on its website, linked here, and a few samples are below.

As for the Red Bull pair, the young duo of Ricciardo and Verstappen were equally awestruck by the experience.

“There really are a lot of similarities between this and F1, just the technology alone,” Ricciardo said. “I had a guest come to a race last year, when they got into the garage they were like: ‘this is like a space station’. We went to mission control here and it’s really like what we have in the Ops Room in Milton Keynes. Even the safety technology is similar. The astronauts go through the same measurements, a similar kind of HANS device etc. It’s really cool.”

Verstappen added, “There are quite a lot of comparisons, if you really want to talk about it we could go on for an hour! The control center looks pretty similar to ours. We share a lot of the same technology. It was really interesting for us to see that and I bet it would be the same if they could see ours.”

Here’s a link to Red Bull’s gallery and some teaser shots below.