Fernando Alonso is “ready and eager” for the increased challenge set to be posed by driving F1’s 2017 cars, according to McLaren’s Eric Boullier.
Alonso was a long-term critic of F1’s regulations in recent years, expressing frustration that cars had become less demanding to drive since the start of his career in the early 2000s.
With increases in downforce set to lower lap times by at least three seconds in 2017, and Pirelli producing tyres which are no longer deliberately designed to lose performance, Boullier says McLaren’s Spanish driver is looking forward to the challenge ahead.
“He’s been working very, very hard this winter and he’s really ready and eager,” McLaren’s racing director told Sky Sports News HQ’s Rachel Brookes.
“He drove this kind of car, or even faster car, in the past so he knows what to expect.
“He can’t wait to drive the car. He drove it in the simulator but it’s not the same. I’m sure he can’t wait to drive it on the track and see if it’s delivering what we expect.”
Alonso is joined in McLaren’s 2017 line-up by Stoffel Vandoorne, who at 24 years old is 11 years younger than his two-time world champion team-mate.
But asked if the 35-year-old Alonso might have to train harder as a result, Boullier replied: “Stoffel never drove such a high-downforce car or high-energy car, so he may have a couple of days [needing] to suit his body just to make sure he’s fit.
“But he also worked very hard over the winter, he’s ready. They’re both ready.”
Speaking at a Pirelli pre-season launch event, Boullier said McLaren were hitting their in-house targets with the development of their new MCL32 car.
And asked if the structure of the team’s management was clear after several months of upheaval, Boullier said: “It’s clear for everybody and obviously we have a challenge now which is to still make the car winning as soon as possible.”
McLaren launch their new challenger on February 24 and Boullier confirmed the MCL32 would feature a new-look livery amid sustained speculation the design will feature the orange colour from the team’s cars in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
“You will see a change of livery,” added Boullier. “Just wait a couple more days and you will see it.”