Alonso won’t rule out McLaren podium

Fernando Alonso is hoping that McLaren-Honda have closed up on their rivals ahead of the new season but admits he won’t know until Melbourne.

McLaren put in a solid showing this pre-season as the Spaniard and his team-mate Jenson Button covered 707 laps, a marked improvement on last year’s tally.

Added to that the duo were 14th and 15th of the 23 drivers on the overall timesheets with a 1:24.714 for Button while Alonso was 0.02s slower.

But as none of the teams are aware of their rivals’ programmes, Alonso admits he is still in the dark as to McLaren’s potential.

“In terms of performance I am in a bit of a stand-by situation: sometimes some of the top times seem to be reachable, while on other days they seem to be unreachable,” he said.

“You get a bit confused with the performance of everybody else.

“I would assume that there is still a lot of work for us to do, and then let’s hope that we are much closer also on the performance side.”

The double World Champion is refusing to rule out the prospect of a podium later in the season.

“That is difficult to say at this stage. But then again: why not?

“I am motivated and I am really looking forward to Australia to do some real racing again.

“The championship is very long at 21 races, and in the course of this marathon so many things can happen.

“We know that we have a chance – and this season we are ready to take every chance and maximise it. The car has huge potential.

“So if there is a podium within reach: go for it!”

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