Fernando Alonso: Mercedes stronger than ever in Formula 1

© Getty Images

McLaren’s Fernando Alonso believes that Mercedes’ advantage over the rest of the Formula 1 field may be greater than ever heading into the 2016 season.

Mercedes enjoyed a successful first pre-season test in Barcelona this week, completing more laps than any other team and suffering zero stoppages on-track or apparent issues with the new car.

Although the one-lap pace of the W07 is yet to truly be displayed, most are anticipating Mercedes to be clear of the rest of the pack once again at the first race of the year in Australia next month.

Speaking to reporters earlier this week, Alonso said that he believes Mercedes may be stronger now that it ever has been, even off the back of two world championship successes.

“I think the Mercedes domination has not finished. I think they are very, very strong,” Alonso said.

“They are doing some interesting things now in testing. That amount of laps means that you have very clear things.

“So when they put the potential as well, they are stronger than ever probably, even more than the last two years.”

Alonso endured a difficult 2015 campaign with McLaren as issues with the Honda power unit limited the Spaniard to just two points finishes.

Although he is not setting any firm expectations for the season ahead, he does believe that McLaren could have the strongest chassis on the grid by the beginning of the European season in May.

“I’m very proud of the team, of what we achieved in the past couple of months,” Alonso said.

“I think the target to have the best car, the best chassis is reachable, is something very possible, maybe by the European races or something like that.

“Motivation is very high, so who knows. There is not a magic solution or a crystal ball, but I would like to be competitive and to be fighting for something important. But honestly I don’t know.”

Jo Shimoda joins Seth Hammaker, Austin Forkner on injured list; Musquin remains out

Shimoda injured
Feld Motor Sports/MX Sports Pro Racing/Align Media

Bad news continues to come out of the Monster Energy / Pro Circuit Kawasaki team as they announced Jo Shimoda injured his shoulder in a practice session and will not mount up when the Monster Energy Supercross 250 East division opens in Houston, Texas on February 4. A timetable has not been given for Shimoda’s return, but a press release from the team references multiple weeks.

“I’m doing my best to focus forward on my return to racing,” said Shimoda in the release. “Our goal was to compete for the 250 Supercross Eastern Regional Championship and I know we had been doing the right work to make that happen. Unfortunately, this crash will cause me to miss the start of the season, but I still aim to be back on the track racing for wins before the end of Supercross.”

Shimoda is joined on the sidelines by teammates Seth Hammaker and Austin Forkner, who also suffered injuries in recent weeks.

The news of Hammaker’s sidelining came just two days ago. His wrist injury is sufficient to require surgery, so he too will miss multiple weeks. Hammaker was scheduled to compete in the 250 East division alongside Shimoda.

Forkner was involved in a Lap 1 crash in the 250 West season opener at Anaheim. Multiple injuries, including an ACL tear, will sideline him for the remainder of the season. He described the injury and its aftermath on Instagram.

Forkner will be relieved by Carson Mumford, but not before that rider’s wrist has healed sufficiently. He is scheduled to debut with Kawasaki in Oakland for the rescheduled Round 2 Supercross race on February 18.

Shimoda finished fourth in the 2022 Supercross 250 West division and was second in 2021 points in 250 East. In 2021, Shimoda won his first Supercross race at Salt Lake City. Last year, he scored one podium and six top-fives in nine starts.

Shimoda finished second in last year’s outdoor Lucas Oil Pro Motocross season, where he added two more SuperMotocross wins including the Unadilla Nationals that kicked off a four-race streak of first- or second-place results.

Kawasaki is not the only team facing injury. Red Bull KTM initially reported Marvin Musquin would be out for the San Diego round with a wrist injury and “maybe more”. This week it was announced he will miss this week’s Triple Crown race in Anaheim and “at least the next several rounds.”