Fernando Alonso has described McLaren-Honda's lacklustre performance in the Japanese Grand Prix as a 'negative surprise' after finishing a lowly 16th at Suzuka.
A year after Alonso infamously commented on his Honda power unit being akin to a GP2 engine, the Spaniard arrived in Suzuka expecting a more competitive weekend around the Japanese manufacturer's home circuit in line with recent top ten form.
However, after qualifying down in 15th position, Alonso endured a similarly difficult race day as he tussled it out in the mid-field, his eventual 16th place finish placing the McLaren driver behind Sauber and Renault.
An unsatisfactory outcome just a week after he went from 22nd to seventh in Sepang, Alonso says the result is a reminder of the work McLaren-Honda still needs to do to ensure it stays ahead a competitive mid-field battle.
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“Nothing happened ahead of us but we weren't very quick in the race either. We were too slow, not only in the race but the whole weekend, so we need to find the reasons. Five days ago we were 7th in Malaysia, fighting with Pérez for P6 up to the last corner, and one week later we're even behind Sauber…
“We expected more, coming here, for sure. It's a negative surprise to end up in 16th place after so many consecutive good results. The track layout didn't help us, with the long corners and long straights, we're certainly lacking in both.”
Despite this, Alonso is confident Suzuka represents an 'exception' to the team's otherwise solid point-scoring form, the former champion expecting a better weekend in Austin.
“We have to find a better solution for Austin, another unique track, but we did well in Spa – Jenson got into Q3, I finished 7th in spite of my grid penalty – in Singapore and in Malaysia, so I don't think what we saw here is the norm but rather the exception, just a weekend where things didn't go our way.”
POINTS: The F1 World Championship standings after the Japanese Grand Prix
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