Fernando Alonso is set to get back to racing in Formula One this weekend at the Canadian Grand Prix after his one-off race at the Indy 500. The two-time world champion has been struggling this season so far with his best performance and only finish coming at the Spanish Grand Prix. He seemed to be doing well during the Indy 500 race, but just like in Formula One, his Honda engine let him down.
However, Alonso needs to put the first five races behind him and also forget about his Indy 500 race and focus on the Canadian Grand Prix this weekend. There is no doubt in anyone's mind that Alonso is one of the best Formula One drivers.
But to get the best out of the best you need to give him a good car and that has not been the case with McLaren and Alonso so far this season. However, McLaren have been making a number of improvements to their car and it showed at Spanish and Monaco Grand Prix and hopefully, it will work in their favour in Canada.
McLaren made a number of upgrades including a raft of new aerodynamic parts on the MCL32 plus tweaks to Honda's fuel and intake system worth 10bhp. Those changes helped Alonso qualify seventh in Spain and it also proved effective at Monaco as Stoffel Vandoorne and Alonso's stand-in Jenson Button ensured McLaren got both cars into Q3 for the first time this season.
While those changes have definitely helped the McLaren team, they still have not been able to get any points up. Both their drivers crashed out in Monaco but McLaren racing director Eric Boullie feels that his team has achieved a 95% success rate with aerodynamic development.
"As the engineers would say, 'as per map' - we're very happy. It's the step we wanted to achieve. The correlation is amazing. We have 95 percent of what we were expecting, so this is brilliant. Now we trust our process. It's not only aero, it's also chassis, suspension - everything is as per process," Autosport.com quoted Boullie as saying.
Meanwhile, as McLaren work hard to get a car good enough for Alonso to race in, the Spaniard himself seems really pumped for his return to Formula One. While he doesn't really care what people think of him this season, he feels he is doing "okay".
The two-time champion will be looking to grab his first and McLaren's first points of the season in Canada and has also set his sights on a third world championship. Winning this year is definitely not possible but a strong finish this season will give him something to build on next season as he looks to be more competitive.
"My first priority is Formula One and to win my third World Championship. My second priority was to enjoy the experience of Indy 500, and I managed to do that. I'm happy but for one thing. The only thing missing is being competitive. It is all you can ask for as a driver and it is frustrating when you do not have that," Alonso said.