Alonso: McLaren is ready for Australian GP now

Alonso: McLaren is ready for Australian GP now”

Both Renault and McLaren are tipped to make big improvements but Red Bull has looked stronger in testing and Verstappen made clear on Thursday that his focus was on Ferrari and champion Mercedes.

McLaren launched their new MCL33 challenger for the 2018 season with great optimism.

Roll on March 23-25 when all the questions will be answered.

The required engine change kept the Spaniard off track until almost close of play, something that must have disappointed the large crowd that had gathered to see the double world champion, but the man himself insists he's ready to head to Melbourne. This has further been hampered this year with unusually cold weather and snow in Barcelona, Spain. It resulted in a red flag period as a forklift came onto the track to return the tyre barrier to its rightful place. "Stupid to do that at this time of the day, I will learn from it. Hopefully back on track soon".

Alonso ended up a couple of tenths quicker than the works Renault of Carlos Sainz Jr, who completed 88 laps over the first four hours before handing the RS18 to Nico Hulkenberg.

Red Bull finished third overall in 2017 while Renault was sixth and McLaren, then with unreliable Honda engines, a distant ninth.

Comparisons will naturally be drawn between McLaren's testing statistics and those of Toro Rosso, who are now running the Honda power unit. Have they pushed too hard with their self-described "aggressive" car design?

McLaren boss Eric Boullier insisted that he is not "overly concerned" about the problems.

"If you want to be competitive you have to be a bit aggressive and have ambition". That was followed by a race simulation - albeit one interrupted by an extra pit stop - as Ferrari completed strong mileage but again failed to match Mercedes' long run pace. It feels great to drive out of the corners, especially last week in tricky, wet conditions, driveability was always spot on, so I'm very happy with that. It is part of the process.

While this morning hasn't featured the sort of blistering drama witnessed yesterday, it has had its moments.

"We think we are nowhere near one second ahead of everyone", he said.

"We definitely think it is going to be three team battle", he added.

After the repairs Alonso closed out the week with a mighty thrash only to see his lap record time of 1:16.720 erased after he cut a chicane.

Raikkonen focused on a series of performance runs in the Ferrari, working his way through the softest tyres in Pirelli's range from super-soft to ultra-soft to hyper-soft.

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