Alonso has fun in Chinese GP, but fails to finish as McLaren woes continue

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Fernando Alonso said he had fun during Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix after charging into the top 10 early on, only to retire from the race after 33 laps as McLaren’s Formula 1 woes continued.

A miserable pre-season marred by numerous issues with the Honda power unit made Alonso’s flirtation with a top-10 finish in Australia a surprise for McLaren, as was his charge to 13th in qualifying on Saturday in China.

Alonso made the most of the tricky conditions in the early part of the race to battle up the order, running as high as sixth before the track dried and the pace deficit to the rest of the field became clear once again.

Alonso was able to remain inside the top 10 until he was forced to retire from the race after 33 laps with a suspected driveshaft issue, marking his second straight DNF.

When asked by NBCSN if he had fun in the race, Alonso said: “Yeah definitely. We started P13 in very tricky conditions, and we were running P6 after three laps, so yeah.

“I was hoping for stable conditions as they were, because people were spinning off here and there. We maximized our opportunities and when the track was drying up, we started to lose a little bit of ground, but we remained P7, which obviously we were completely out of position.”

Alonso was disappointed that the Honda power unit’s reliability means McLaren cannot yet think about having a clean weekend, putting this down to its lack of running in pre-season testing.

“As we said yesterday, every opportunity that will be there, we will take it. Today we proved once more how hungry we are about getting the result,” Alonso said.

“Unfortunately we are not strong enough to finish the race still. I think the lack of winter testing is a big price that we are paying now. But we will try to improve as soon as possible.”

Michael Schumacher’s son to make F1 practice debut at Nurburgring

F1 Mick Schumacher
Joe Portlock - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images
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MARANELLO, Italy — Mick Schumacher, son of the legednary seven-time champion, will have an official Formula One drive during an F1 race weekend for the first time next week at the Nurburgring, Alfa Romeo and Ferrari said Tuesday.

Schumacher gets the practice drive in an Alfa Romeo on Oct. 9 on his home track in Germany as a member of Ferrari’s young driver program, taking over Antonio Giovinazzi’s car for the first session of the weekend.

“I am overjoyed to get this chance in free practice,” Schumacher said in a statement. “I’m going to prepare myself well, so that I can do the best possible job for the team and gain some valuable data for the weekend.”

The 21-year-old Schumacher leads the Formula 2 standings after winning races in Monza and Sochi. He won the European Formula 3 championship in 2018 and tested a Ferrari F1 car in Bahrain in April 2019. He also has done demonstration runs in his father’s old cars, most recently this month ahead of the Tuscan Grand Prix in a championship-winning 2004 Ferrari.

Michael Schumacher holds the F1 record with 91 victories, which Lewis Hamilton is on the verge of tying.

Ferrari said two other drivers in its academy program will also get practice drives in Formula One.

Callum Ilott, a British driver who is second to Mick Schumacher in F2, will drive an F1 Haas at the Nurburgring on the same day as Schumacher. Russian driver Robert Shwartzman will drive in practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Dec. 11, though Ferrari hasn’t said for which team.

The German round was added to the F1 schedule after the coronavirus pandemic disrupted the season and will be officially known as the Eifel Grand Prix after a nearby mountain range. The Nurburgring last hosted F1 in 2013.