Fernando Alonso admits he is cautiously optimistic over this year’s Formula 1 McLaren as the team seek to end a three-year slump.
The Woking-based outfit ended a disastrous partnership with engine suppliers Honda last year and spirits are high within the camp over a return to form in 2018 following the switch to Renault power units.
Alonso cut a frustrated figure during McLaren’s three years working with Honda and is hopeful that the addition of Renault engines will help him challenge for that elusive third world championship.
The Spaniard is 16/1 to win the Formula 1 Drivers’ title this year, with defending champion Lewis Hamilton 1/1 and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel 7/2.
At the unveiling of McLaren’s new MCL33, which sees the team return to the orange livery of their early years in F1, Alonso spoke about how important it was for the team to take a big step forward this year after too long out of the title picture.
“If we’re able to develop the key strengths of last year’s chassis and marry it to an improved Renault power unit, then I think we’ll be able to take a step forwards,” said Alonso.
“Looking at our new car, I feel incredibly excited – but also apprehensive. I know just how important this car is to the team, and I just hope that it delivers in the way we all want it to.”
McLaren have largely stuck with the same chassis as last season for this year having been praised for the aerodynamics of their car.
Executive director Zak Brown hopes the chassis combined with Renault’s engine will see the team end a six-year wait for a Grand Prix win this season.
“We definitely view 2018 as the year when McLaren will move closer to the front, fighting teams and drivers as we improve our fortunes,” said Brown.
McLaren are 22/1 to win the Constructors’ championship this season with Mercedes 1/2 and Red Bull 3/1.