Fernando Alonso has played down the significance of his early Formula 1 pre-season testing crash on the opening day at Circuit de Catalunya as McLaren’s new Renault engine partnership took to the track.

The two-time F1 world champion suffered an off in the opening hour of the first day of pre-season testing in Spain when his McLaren MCL33 suffered a wheel nut issue which loosen the right rear tyre which forced Alonso into a spin at the final corner and into the gravel.

After losing the majority of the morning session as McLaren investigated the incident and repaired the Spaniard’s car, Alonso has shrugged off the headline-grabbing crash as a small problem with big consequences in terms of media attention.

“It was a good day for you guys,” Alonso told the media at Circuit de Catalunya. “This is a very, very small problem, but very graphic and very obvious. A car in the gravel makes a big thing, but there were six teams in the garage with the door closed, with the car in pieces – but there is no picture of that.

“So there are a lot of teams in trouble, big trouble, and for us with a wheel nut it will make the thing of the day. I thought about all of you!”

Alonso, who 12 months ago threatened to walk away from F1 after a disastrous opening day of testing due to numerous Honda engine issues, says the off didn’t majorly impact McLaren’s programme and was content with the 49 laps he notched up on his first day of F1 testing in 2018.

“We didn’t plan to run in the morning much, we were on a different programme,” he said. “When we had that issue we reversed the programme, we didn’t have as big a stop for lunch that we planned.

“We had a normal day in the afternoon, I’m the one who did the most laps in the afternoon. Others had a bit too many issues but [for us] it’s a very good start.

“The car felt very good here, good potential, also I think the performance side it is very early to say but everything seems to be in line with our expectations and the wind tunnel and the data we had before coming to the team. I think everything is quite optimistic.”

 

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