Fernando Alonso questions people's expectations on McLaren for F1 2018

Fernando Alonso says that expectations that McLaren should have done better at the start of the 2018 Formula 1 season were unrealistic

The Woking team has switched to Renault engines for this year after three dismal seasons powered by Honda.

McLaren has scored points with both its cars in the first two races of the year, but has failed to show the kind of pace needed to match Mercedes, Ferrari or Red Bull, which uses the same Renault engine.

Racing director Eric Boullier said after the Bahrain Grand Prix that the start of the season had "definitely" been harder than anticipated.

However, Alonso reckons that, given the struggles that McLaren endured over the past three years, expecting a stronger performance was not realistic.

"I don't know what exactly people were expecting from one season to another where the regulations stay the same," said Alonso ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix.

How McLaren is following a Red Bull/Ferrari path

"There were three teams ahead of everyone last year and this year they stayed ahead of everyone.

"Last year in three races we had zero points. Last year Stoffel [Vandoorne] didn't even make the start in Bahrain, he was pulling the car into the pitlane so this year from two races four cars to the chequered flag and third in the constructors' championship.

"If we look at the facts, not the feelings or the wishes or the dreams, if we see the facts, this is a very good start."

Although the team endured a somewhat troubled pre-season, Alonso and team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne have benefitted from their rivals' problems in the first two races to put McLaren in third place in the standings.

Alonso, whose best result so far this year has been a fifth place, said McLaren is the only team which has enjoyed a flawless season so far.

"We didn't have any mechanical failures or operational failures and I think we are the only team no," he said.

"With the pitstop [issues] from Ferrari, the pitstops of Haas and the Red Bull retirements...

"I think there's only one team remaining with no issues at all in two weekends, and that's only McLaren because even Mercedes they changed the gearbox already a couple of times.

"This could change quite quickly, but so far the start of the season has been very positive.

"But I understand that the expectations are always difficult to meet and a potential championship fight."

Team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne added: "In terms of actual pace, maybe we were expecting a little bit more but in truth it probably is kind of where we were expecting in terms of how the car is performing, how the car is handling, is in terms of feeling is pretty much 100% what we were expecting.

"We know the next couple of races there will be some new parts coming, some quite substantial parts, and we are hoping that those bring more performance to the car."

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