The odds are stacked against the McLaren-Honda F1 team as the Australian Grand Prix, and the start of the season, looms closer, many analysts have pointed out. Close rival Mercedes, with its ace driver Lewis Hamilton, have clinched the pole position.
The upcoming Formula 1 season is expected to be exciting as two former teammates, McLaren's Fernando Alonso and Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton, will be edging each other out on the grid. Even Alonso himself admitted that his team is the underdog when directly compared to its rival.
During the early practices sessions, McLaren-Honda has been bugged by several delays and engine issues. These issues have even lead Honda's Formula 1 engine expert Gilles Simon to depart from the team prior to the start of the season.
— McLaren (@McLarenF1) March 25, 2017
In a statement acquired by ESPN, Alonso said, "We had some issues but in terms of the experience we had in winter testing, we have less issues than Barcelona so we were able to run a little bit more in FP1 and FP2."
When asked about the unease with regards to his team's performance, Alonso pointed his Honda-powered car's straight line performance. He added that he lose as much as 200 meters when running on straight.
With regards to the upcoming Australian Grand Prix, Mercedes' Hamilton will start at pole position, his fourth consecutive. Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel in second, Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas in third, Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen in fourth, and Red Bull's Max Verstappen in the fifth position. McLaren's Alonso will start in the 13th position, while his teammate Stoffel Vandoorne is in 18th position, according to The Telegraph.
The 2017 Australian Grand Prix is scheduled this Sunday. Next is the Chinese Grand Prix on April 9, which will be at Shanghai International Circuit in Shanghai, China.