Alonso optimistic McLaren can challenge


Fernando Alonso expects McLaren to gain more than two seconds on their rivals in the 2016 Formula One season as they address the problems they encountered last year.

Alonso finished with 11 points in his first season back at McLaren, as issues with the Honda power units hindered the British team.

McLaren managed only 27 points in total, but Alonso said in October that he believes they can close the gap to other teams and he has a more positive outlook at the start of the new year.

When asked if he thinks McLaren are capable of clawing back as much as two seconds, he was quoted as saying by Autosport: "I'd agree with that.

"I think it will be relatively more than that."

The Spaniard added: "We have not been optimising the car in some parts of the year.

"We're a bit clearer with what the strengths of the car are and we need to exploit a bit more in that direction.

"We know the power unit has been our main limitation, so there are no radical changes for [2016] in terms of [car] design and philosophy.

"We know the deficit we have on the straights compared to other cars. So if we apply some of the solutions and everything is working as we expect, the lap time benefit will be very big.

"There are solutions in place which are logical and quite good and keep the motivation very high because I think [2016] will be a completely different picture.

"We have been through some difficult times, but I think we learned from it.

"We have kept united, working in harmony and that was the positive thing.

"The negative thing has been the results."

Alonso thinks the Honda engine will be more reliable than it proved to be last year to enable the team to put their 2015 woes behind them.

"Everyone will improve between 0.5s and one second," he said. "With us being two seconds off the pace, we need to do more than 0.5s or one second.

"The power unit will be the main thing to unlock this potential."