Fernando Alonso says he and McLaren-Honda “cannot assume anything” regarding his participation in the upcoming Chinese Grand Prix, but adds that he is preparing as normal.
The Spaniard could not take the start of the race in Bahrain after the FIA ruled he had not recovered enough from his heavy Melbourne crash. Alonso then revealed he had suffered cracked ribs and a partially collapsed lung, before watching reserve driver Stoffel Vandoorne deputise for him and score a point on his F1 debut.
Having recently announced his return to training, the double world champion hopes he can get the green light to make his competitive return in Shanghai.
“It was disappointing to be told I couldn’t race in Bahrain, but I fully respected the decision of the FIA medical team,” Alonso said. “While I hope I’ll be back in the cockpit on Friday, until I get the all-clear from the doctors to race – whenever that may be – we cannot assume anything, but I’m continuing to prepare for the race weekend as normal.
“Stoffel did a great job in Bahrain, and although Jenson suffered reliability issues, it was positive to see that both cars ran quite strongly during the weekend. It was also interesting for me to see the race weekend unfold from a different perspective, which helped me to understand everything that goes into getting the cars on track and learn a lot about the different processes, although I’d still prefer to be racing!”
A two-time winner in Shanghai (2005 with Renault and 2013 for Ferrari), Alonso hopes McLaren-Honda will confirm the progress it seems to have achieved over the winter.
“The Chinese Grand Prix is always a little bit of an unknown: the weather is often changeable as it’s spring time in Shanghai and the temperatures can often fluctuate, which influences the car’s set-up and balance over the course of the weekend.
“Track temperatures will be much cooler than what we saw in Bahrain, which means keeping heat in the tyres is harder to maintain, so we’ll need to focus this weekend on optimising our set-up for the variable conditions.
“The track itself features a challenging mix of corners, and the two long, fast right-handers place a lot of wear on the tyres, especially the front left. It can therefore place huge emphasis on tyre wear and graining, so it’s important we get the tyres working properly from the start of every stint so we can manage them during the race and get the best out of them.
“The circuit is enjoyable to drive, and there are some fun, high-speed sections around the back, so I’m excited to see what our chassis and power unit are capable of there this year.”
McLaren has already confirmed that Vandoorne will be on standby in Shanghai this weekend.
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