Alonso has sympathy for beaten Vandoorne

Fernando Alonso has called for a “deep investigation” into Stoffel Vandoorne’s recent woes after the Belgian was out-qualified once again in Germany.

Alonso currently leads Vandoorne 11-0 in the intra-team qualifying battle, but the two-time World Champion does not think that his team-mate is performing as badly as the stats suggest.

“I think he’s doing what he can,” Alonso said about Vandoorne.

“Definitely the last two races it seems that car has some kind of performance issue, and there are clear signs on the data that there is less downforce on that car.

“We’ve been changing some parts, and we need to go deep into that investigation because with both cars close to the points is always a little bit easier.”

Alonso qualified in P11 for the German Grand Prix, while Vandoorne was slowest of everyone and went out in Q1.

After calling the FP1 and FP2 sessions the worst Friday of his career, Vandoorne conceded that he is going through a tough time.

He said: “I think the situation is the same as Silverstone. Since we hit the ground in Silverstone, we were by far the last car and it turned out the same today.

“I can’t really tell anything more. It’s frustrating. We changed a lot of parts on the car and it still doesn’t work.

“Definitely I didn’t forget how to drive a car. But the cars are in a similar spec, it’s just that we can see an issue on the car.

“We’ve changed over a lot of parts already and at the moment we don’t really have a solution to just make it work normally.

“It’s not linked to the set-up at all. It’s something on the car that doesn’t work.

“We’ve almost changed everything on the car. We see the problem on the data. Right now we don’t have a solution.”

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Vandoorne: Worst Friday of my career

Slowest of all in both practice sessions, Stoffel Vandoorne has billed Friday’s running at the Hockenheim as the “worst” practice day of his career.

The Belgian racer struggled throughout Friday’s two practice sessions for the German Grand Prix.

While he only managed 20 minutes of running in the opening session due to massive set-up changes, he was back out in FP2 but once again slowest.

He finished 2.3s down on pace-setter Max Verstappen, and six-tenths behind his team-mate Fernando Alonso.

“The worst Friday of my career,” said Vandoorne.

“This morning we did a lot of aero tests, new parts on the car. We tried to understand the things we have a bit better.

“This afternoon again a difficult session. We again saw some problems with the car similar to the ones we had at Silverstone.

“Right now there’s a bit of a question how we can get the car back to a normal condition. It’s the same situation as in Silverstone.

“We don’t understand how to get the car to work. We have to find a solution.”

As for the gap to Alonso, Vandoorne said: “It’s impossible the gap to Alonso is six tenths. [I was] last by far.

“We can see we’ve got big problems but we don’t know how to get the car in a normal condition.

“There’s a lot of investigations to do tonight. It’s clear that for tomorrow we’ll probably change a lot of parts on the car to try and understand how to put the car back into a normal condition.”

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Alonso to consider future ‘on the beach’

Fernando Alonso has said not to expect an announcement on his future before the 2018 summer break begins.

The pieces of the 2019 puzzle are beginning to fall into place after Mercedes’ double announcement that Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas will both be remaining with the team.

That will now have a trickle-down effect on the rest of the grid, with Alonso weighing up whether to quit Formula 1 altogether and pursue other opportunities in other racing categories.

While Red Bull are expecting a quick resolution to Daniel Ricciardo‘s future, we are going have to wait a little bit longer to find out what is in store for the two-time World Champion.

“I didn’t have time to think in June or July to be honest,” said Alonso, who has had the small matter of a Formula 1 triple header and the Le Mans 24 Hours race.

“I had quite an intense month.

“Probably in August, when I’m at the beach tanning, it will be time to think a little bit more.”

It was yet another low-key start to a grand prix weekend for McLaren, with Alonso and team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne largely running toward the back of the grid.

Alonso finished P12 in FP1 and then P17 in FP2 ahead of the German Grand Prix, 1.7 seconds down on the quickest Red Bull which has the same Renault engine.

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Vandoorne ‘pretty sure’ of McLaren stay

Stoffel Vandoorne has said he is “pretty sure” that he has done enough to warrant a contract extension with McLaren for the 2019 season.

McLaren’s continued issues with their car have been very well-documented, but Vandoorne has also struggled to impress this season and has remained firmly in Fernando Alonso’s shadow.

Vandoorne has failed to out-qualify Alonso in every grand prix weekend so far in the 2018 campaign and has not scored a single point since round four in Baku.

His below-par performances has led to speculation over his future at McLaren, especially with rising star Lando Norris waiting in the wings, but the Belgian feels as if he has still done enough in difficult circumstances to continue with the Woking team.

“I’m pretty sure,” Vandoorne said ahead of the German Grand Prix weekend.

“For sure it’s not been a year and a half I was hoping to have in Formula 1. Ultimately we’ve been struggling a lot in terms of the results.

“We’ve had both years a car that struggled to fight for points let’s say.

“It’s not always easy to show the right things in those circumstances. But that’s the situation we’re in.”

McLaren have options to extend the contracts of both Alonso and Vandoorne, with talks over their respective futures set to take place over the summer break.

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De Ferran opens up on McLaren issues

New McLaren sporting director Gil de Ferran has given his first impressions on what needs to change in order to make the Woking team great again.

De Ferran’s arrival at McLaren was part of a staff overhaul with racing director Eric Boullier resigning and replaced by a three-man organisation at the top of the chain of command.

De Ferran began his new role on July and, after his first race weekend in the hotseat at the British Grand Prix, identified the areas where McLaren need to improve quickly.

“I think Zak [Brown] actually outlined the whole thing really well,” De Ferran told The Checkered Flag.

“We need to communicate more and bring some more clarity into the organisation, and I don’t disagree there at all.

“For the little time I’ve been in there the one thing is clear to me is that the place is full of very bright, very motivated people, they care a lot about what they do and care a lot about the success of the company.

“I’m just getting myself integrated and trying to pull everyone in the right direction.”

The future of superstar driver Fernando Alonso is also set to rumble on over the summer, but De Ferran would not be drawn on whether he will sign a contract extension into the 2019 season or move on to pastures new.

“Fernando I think is one of the best drivers in history, not only in Formula 1 but globally,” added De Ferran.

“Working with him has been a massive pleasure, he’s a great guy to work with as well and everyone up and down the team not only love him but has a huge amount of respect for him so he’s definitely a major asset for the team.”

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Alonso expects difficult German GP weekend

McLaren can expect a trying weekend at the Hockenheimring with Fernando Alonso saying it won’t be “an easy track” for their MCL33.

Although the Spaniard was back inside the points at the British GP, he was left to ponder what could have been had McLaren managed a better showing in qualifying.

Alonso raced from 13th on the grid to eighth at the chequered flag.

He has reiterated McLaren’s need to improve their Saturday pace.

“We know we need to work on our qualifying performances to give ourselves the best chance on Sunday, but we’ve also seen that during the race we can push forward and secure points, so the aim is to achieve the same in Germany next weekend,” Alonso said.

“I enjoy racing at Hockenheim and have won there three times so it’s great to be back after a break last year.

“The track is viewed as one of the classics, it’s fun to drive and there are a couple of overtaking opportunities – and an extra DRS zone this year – so hopefully we can fight with the cars around us.”

Germany marks the first of two races in a double-header with Alonso acknowledging that the two extremely different tracks, the Hockenheimring and the Hungaroring, mean extra work as they involve very different set-ups.

And while he is hopeful for Germany, he says it could be a difficult weekend for McLaren.

“The next couple of races before the summer break are on very different tracks. We need to work hard, and do as much as possible to adapt our set-up for each of them to maximise our chances.

“We know this weekend won’t be an easy track for us but we’ll give it our best as always.”

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IndyCar boss denies McLaren said no to series

IndyCar CEO Mark Miles has quashed speculation that McLaren have decided against a 2019 IndyCar programme.

While a month ago there was plenty of talk about McLaren joining the IndyCar series next season, possibly paving the way for Fernando Alonso to swap series, of late those stories have gone quiet.

This has led to speculation that McLaren are no longer interested in racing in the American series.

According to some, McLaren have already made a decision, opting to focus solely on Formula 1 as they try to recover from what has been a below par season.

IndyCar CEO Mark Miles is adamant no decision has been made.

“No,” Miles told Autoweek when asked if McLaren had reached a decision. “Period.

“I think Zak will be straightforward with us and keep us informed and when he has news one way or another we’ll know it.”

He added that rumours that McLaren would not be joining IndyCar were “crap.”

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