Formula 1

McLaren expect no 2007 repeat after Fernando Alonso's Montreal outburst

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McLaren's racing director Eric Boullier has moved to quickly squash claims that the newly reformed relationship between the team and Fernando Alonso is already on shaky ground.

After being one of the highest profile driver moves over the Winter, many wondered if the Spaniard, who left McLaren after a controversial year alongside Lewis Hamilton in 2007, would be able to cope if the team's other new partnership with Honda failed to meet expectation.

And after failing to score a point in the six races he has started, as well as a third mechanical retirement in a row in Canada, even before pulling into the garage there was the first sign of frustration from the former double world champion.

'Amateur' jibe causes a stir

On a circuit notorious for heavy braking and high speeds, which means fuel consumption is among the highest on the calendar, the McLaren, already suffering from a big power disadvantage down Montreal's long straights, was just over a third of the way through the 70-lap race when the radio call came from Alonso's engineer that fuel would be an issue.

That prompted a fiery response from the former Ferrari driver who refused to follow the order to fuel save adding: "Already I have big problems now. Driving with this, looking like amateur. So I race and then I concentrate on the fuel."

It was the 'amateur' reference that really caught the attention of fans and pundits alike, as Alonso seemed to be questioning whether the team could put a competitive chassis and engine package together.

Alonso still focused on task in hand

After the race, the Spaniard looked to keep the more positive persona intact despite McLaren's issues posting a photo of the timing screens upside down on Twitter which had Fernando on top with team-mate Jenson Button underneath him.

Boullier was also keen to stress that the outburst was just simply a instant reaction to the situation facing Alonso and that the 33-year-old was still fully focused on the McLaren-Honda program.

"If we are still like this next year, yes of course I'm sure he is going to turn mad, but I don't think he will," the former Lotus boss was quoted by the Daily Mail.

"You guys see him regularly and you can see he is happy with the team, happy where he is now.

"He wants to win, he wants to race, he wants to compete, we know he's a winner and we have the same agenda anyway.

"He told me the other day he was considering this year like his testing year just to be ready next year,' Boullier added.

The first bump on a long, difficult road

Certainly when Alonso re-signed for McLaren he knew that there was going to be no quick route back to the front for a team that has had its own struggles, much like Ferrari, in the past few years.

Honda is also at a very early stage in the development of its V6 turbo hybrid power unit, likely much lower down the development ladder than their rivals even before they turned a wheel at the start of 2014.

But the biggest problem facing McLaren-Honda is the amount of development the Japanese supplier can make is limited by in-season regulations and with Mercedes and Ferrari in particular also continuing to make huge strides, the expected gains that they had hoped for during the course of the season will likely not come to fruition.

So while the radio message Alonso spontaneously reacted to in Montreal may not mean too much for now, the biggest test will likely be towards the end of this and into the start of next season.

Then, if McLaren and Honda are still falling well short of what was hoped, then the worries of another 2007-style Alonso-McLaren breakdown may start to increase.

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