Formula One pre season test: Fernando Alonso spins out early

Last Updated February 26 2018, 18:48Formula 1
Fernando Alonso
Fernando Alonso

McLaren are playing catch-up after a wheel nut failure wrote off Fernando Alonso's opening morning of Formula 1 pre-season testing in Barcelona.

The British team headed into Monday's first winter test brimming with optimism after ditching their beleaguered engine supplier Honda and teaming up with Renault for 2018.

But there was a sadly all-too familiar story for the Woking marque after Alonso, 36, spun into the gravel when his right-rear wheel detached from his McLaren.

Alonso, who had completed six laps with the session just 37 minutes old, emerged unscathed from the incident before crouching down to examine his stricken car and walking back to the garage.

Track time is imperative in testing with only eight days of running before the new campaign gets under way in Melbourne on March 25. The weather could also play a role in Spain with sleet and rain forecast for later in the week.

Although Alonso returned to the circuit later in the day to take his lap count to 51, Red Bull's Daniel Ricciardo, who set the fastest time, managed more than a century of circuits, while Mercedes' Valtteri Bottas, second fastest on the time sheets, and team-mate Lewis Hamilton completed 83 laps between them.

All eyes are on McLaren this season following their underwhelming displays in recent years. Naturally, they moved to play down Alonso's early failure, but it is hardly the start they would have wanted.

"It was a very, very small problem, but very graphic and very obvious because a car in the gravel is a big thing," Alonso said.

"But there are six teams in the garage with the doors closed and the cars in pieces, but no one sees that. There is no picture of that.

"There are a lot of teams in big trouble, but us with a wheel nut failure, that will make the story.

"We didn't plan to run much in the morning so it won't cost us and the failure was not a handicap. I did the most laps in the afternoon and others had issues."

Alonso, the double world champion who extended his McLaren deal in October, managed only one lap on the opening morning last year due to reliability issues. He then failed to finish more than half the races he contested during a miserable campaign.

McLaren, a winner of 20 combined drivers' and constructors' championships, have failed to win a grand prix in six years, have not been on the podium since 2014 and finished next to bottom in last year's standings.

Zak Brown, McLaren's American executive director said: "All the teams will have a variety of issues throughout testing and we lost very little time so it is not a big deal.

"This team is used to public pressure and having eyes on us. We thrive on stepping up to the plate so we are not feeling any more pressure than we already put on ourselves.

"We are working hard and we have not set targets for specific race finishes, but we want to be competitive and that is our goal.

"Whether that is one podium, five podiums, or no podiums, it will all depend on what the rest of the teams do. We expect to be racing at the front of the field."

Ricciardo set the pace ahead of Bottas and Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen on day one. Hamilton, who took over testing duties from Bottas after the lunch break, finished fifth in the order as conditions worsened in the afternoon.

Most Read

Trainer Mick Appleby1

Monday's racing preview

Big Country is Keith Hamer's fancy for the Zetland Gold Cup at Redcar and he has a tip for every race in the UK and Ireland.

Alpha Centauri - won Irish 1000 Guineas2

Guineas glee for Alpha

Jessica Harrington realised a long-held ambition as she registered her her first Classic success with Alpha Centauri in the Tattersalls Irish 1,000 Guineas at the Curragh.

Richard Wood celebrates putting Rotherham ahead in the Sky Bet League One play-off final3

Rotherham secure Championship return

It was a real captain’s performance from Richard Wood as his brace secured an instant return to the Sky Bet Championship for Rotherham.

Nabil Fekir: An ideal target for Liverpool4

Sunday Paper Talk

Jurgen Klopp will have more than £200m to spend this summer, with forwards Nabil Fekir and Christian Pulisic among his chief targets.

Loris Karius is left devastated by his mistakes5

Karius "infinitely sorry" for mistakes

Loris Karius says he is "infinitely sorry" for the mistakes he made in Liverpool's Champions League final loss against Real Madrid on Saturday.

Most Read

Trainer Mick Appleby1

Monday's racing preview

Big Country is Keith Hamer's fancy for the Zetland Gold Cup at Redcar and he has a tip for every race in the UK and Ireland.

Alpha Centauri - won Irish 1000 Guineas2

Guineas glee for Alpha

Jessica Harrington realised a long-held ambition as she registered her her first Classic success with Alpha Centauri in the Tattersalls Irish 1,000 Guineas at the Curragh.

Richard Wood celebrates putting Rotherham ahead in the Sky Bet League One play-off final3

Rotherham secure Championship return

It was a real captain’s performance from Richard Wood as his brace secured an instant return to the Sky Bet Championship for Rotherham.

Nabil Fekir: An ideal target for Liverpool4

Sunday Paper Talk

Jurgen Klopp will have more than £200m to spend this summer, with forwards Nabil Fekir and Christian Pulisic among his chief targets.

Loris Karius is left devastated by his mistakes5

Karius "infinitely sorry" for mistakes

Loris Karius says he is "infinitely sorry" for the mistakes he made in Liverpool's Champions League final loss against Real Madrid on Saturday.

Racing Tips

Check out our horse racing nap of the day

Sporting Life: Daily Nap

David Ord heads to Redcar on Bank Holiday Monday for his best bet - a David O'Meara runner in the finale.

Trainer Mick Appleby

Monday's racing preview

Big Country is Keith Hamer's fancy for the Zetland Gold Cup at Redcar and he has a tip for every race in the UK and Ireland.

Get your bets on!

Our best bets

Check out all of our available betting tips and previews of the forthcoming sporting action.

Next Race Off
02:31 Los Alamitos
2
(2)
Very Thankful
J: Edgar Payeras
3
(3)
Big G Secret Crab
J: Kellie McDaid

Football Tips

Check out our outright tips for the World Cup

World Cup: Outright tips

Five-time winners Brazil are given the confident selection for World Cup glory as Matt Brocklebank takes a look at the outright betting market.

Dean Henderson will be hopeful of more celebrations at full-time on Sunday

Rotherham v Shrews: Play-off tips

Sky Bet League One takes centre stage on Sunday when Rotherham meet Shrewsbury. Tom Carnduff has 12/5, 7/2 and 18/1 best bets.

Jayden Stockley and Exeter celebrate

Coventry v Exeter: play-off tips

The Sky Bet EFL play-offs end with Coventry's meeting with Exeter at Wembley and Tom Carnduff is backing the Grecians for success.