Fernando Alonso missed out on the points in his return to racing this weekend after being sidelined due to injury in Bahrain, and said after the Chinese Grand Prix that McLaren needs to improve across the board to be competitive.
“It was not easy,” he admitted when asked how the race had gone. “I think we did not have the pace today to deliver a good result and to be in the points so unfortunately we managed only 12th. It is the way it is.
“We need to improve in all areas,” he insisted. “Power unit we’re still a little bit down compared with the top guys, and then I’m sure that aerodynamically and tyre management is something we need to keep improving.
“Obviously we chose a different strategy today – two stops – so we had to run the soft and mediums for very long stints so that requires a little bit of care about the tyres, a little slower place, so that didn’t feel great or as much fun as we would like but from the outside.”
As well as the choice of strategy, Alonso pointed out the impact of the early safety car closing up the field and allowing those cars that had started on supersofts to make their first pit stops without falling 25 seconds behind
“We chose to start with the prime tyre and run a little longer but that benefit was cancelled after the safety car because they were back up to our rear wing immediately, they didn’t lose the 25 seconds.
“But to be honest after the safety car we didn’t have the pace to open up the gaps so we’ll have to look at that. On the positive side both cars finished the race so reliably continues to improve.
Alonso pointed out that it’s the first long run he’s managed this year in the MP4-31 after his horror crash in Melbourne and his enforced absence in Bahrain.
“In winter testing we never did 50-something laps, Australia I didn’t finish obviously with the accident, Bahrain I didn’t participate. This is the first real race I’ve completed, and it will be useful to keep improving.”
As for his cracked ribs, Alonso admitted that he had been in more discomfort before the race than he had been expecting.
“To be honest I feel a little bit worse today. When I went to the grid I had a little more pain than the last couple of days so I was a bit worried on the formation lap. But only now, jumping out of the car I’m reminded about the ribs so when I was in the race,
“I don’t know if it was the adrenalin or the competition, whatever, but I feel completely fine.”
Rosberg cruises home ahead of chaos in China
Relive the Chinese Grand Prix lap-by-lap as it happened!
Eric Silbermann snaps up breakfast with photographer Crispin Thruston