McLaren looking for top-end speed…with or without Alonso

Fernando Alonso isn’t 100% sure he’ll be in the seat this weekend for the Chinese Grand Prix and if not, Stoffel Vandoorne will by on hot standby just in case. That’s not a bad thing given the fact that the young reserve drivers scored the teams first championship points of the season while standing in for Fernando in Bahrain.

Alonso Is still suffering from cracked ribs due to his accident in Australia and will have to pass a FIA medical examine in order to be able to drive this weekend. He said:

“It was disappointing to be told I couldn’t race in Bahrain, but I fully respected the decision of the FIA medical team,” said Alonso.

“While I hope I’ll be back in the cockpit on Friday, until I get the all-clear from the doctors to race – whenever that may be – we cannot assume anything, but I’m continuing to prepare for the race weekend as normal.”

Meanwhile, teammate Jenson Button will start the race using his second engine of the season after experiencing an engine failure in Bahrain. The 2009 champ says that he can tell the performance has improved in the McLaren and specifically the engine which is a positive sign but reliability is key.

For Honda, the focus was to improve the ERS portion of their performance and now they will focus on top-end speed:

“From an internal combustion engine point, from our target it isn’t very far behind, [but] we clearly understood our top-end power isn’t good enough,” Hasegawa told Autosport.

“It is a very important point that it needs to improve, especially for overtaking not very strong cars. “I don’t want to disrespect, but even the Sauber or the Haas they [McLaren] struggle to pass. “I think it’s coming from the top-end speed, so we need more top-end speed – it’s very clear.”

It will be interesting to see if McLaren can manage to develop their way into the 3rd through 5th place fight during the 2016 Formula 1 season. It’s a place they should be running and with or without Alonso, they should be finishing races consistently in the points.