Fernando Alonso says McLaren-Honda “can’t make any predictions” as to where it stacks up against the competition ahead of the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.
The Japanese manufacturer and British team are entering the second year of their reunited partnership on the wake of a much more productive winter. However, Alonso and team-mate Jenson Button still suffered some reliability issues in pre-season testing, while Honda admitted it was “not satisfied with engine power” yet.
Although the Spaniard expects reigning Constructors’ champions Mercedes and rivals Ferrari to be fighting at the front again, Alonso believes the early contours of the 2016 pecking order remains quite blurry at the moment.
“We can’t make any predictions of results or make comparisons as we don’t yet know much about the form book from winter testing,” the 2005 and ’06 world champion said. “The same teams look to be strong this year, but everyone is holding their cards very close to their chest, so it will be interesting to see how the weekend unfolds.
Alonso also believes the revised tyre regulations and introduction of a new elimination-style qualifying format add to the uncertainty in the build up to Melbourne’s curtain raiser.
“This year, it’ll be interesting to see how everyone’s tyre choices play out, and the strategy each team picks, but it’s only on Sunday afternoon that we’ll get to see where we really are.
“The new qualifying format will surely make things a bit unpredictable for the teams and the fans, as every time a new regulation comes in each season it always take a little bit of time to get used to it.”
This weekend’s race will be Alonso’s first Australian Grand Prix in two seasons after the 34-year-old had to miss last year’s event due to a concussion sustained in a winter testing crash. The Spaniard has won the event once, taking victory in the 2006 edition with Renault.
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