On the back of a wretched weekend for McLaren in France, Fernando Alonso has again defended their form, adamant the situation has “improved” a lot compared to last year.
Although McLaren began this season with a spate of double points-hauls, that has dried up of late.
The team has not scored since Spain and last weekend suffered their worst qualifying of 2018 as neither driver made it out of Q1 – and neither scored on the Sunday.
Despite that Alonso says 2018 has been a step in the right direction for McLaren and new engine partner Renault.
“We had zero points [this time] last season,” he told the official F1 website. “The situation changed a lot and improved a lot.
“We are not where we want to be, and we want to improve. We want to fight for podiums, we want to fight for championships.
“We were thinking this year could be that transition to be close to the podiums and close to the Red Bull performance, and we are not.
“We realise that, and we accept that we need to improve. If this was the season to improve… we did improve massively.
“400 or 500% more points than last year, so we are doing what we can.”
The Spaniard, though, concedes France was not a good weekend for the Woking team.
“It was our least competitive Sunday but if you look at the race trace, we were quite competitive… The pace for the whole first stint was very similar to [Carlos] Sainz and [Kevin] Magnussen [in the Renault and Haas], which was definitely not [the case] on Saturday [when] we were 1.5 seconds behind them.
“On Sunday again we did improve a lot. If you look only at the results, we were out in Q1, [so people say] ‘Let’s blame McLaren’. And on Sunday we were out of the points, [so people say that] McLaren is very bad.
“We are fifth in the constructors’ championship, I’m eighth in the drivers’ championship. All the other [teams] that are doing a ‘perfect’ season, they are behind us, so maybe they are not so perfect and we are not so bad. We understand we have been uncompetitive, and we are the first ones that want to improve that.
“At the same time, we are not last. We are not getting worse and worse. We are not the worst team in the paddock. We are not these things that we’ve been hearing for the last three days.
“There are no small teams racing – there is no Manor Racing, there is no Caterham. Sauber is probably the smallest team and they are fighting for Q3, so the midfield group is amazingly tight and amazingly competitive. So we are dealing with amazingly competitive teams and we try to do our best.”