Fernando Alonso crashes out in opening hour of pre-season test

McLaren hopes for orange crush with new F1 challenger

McLaren's Fernando Alonso provided the early headlines, returning to his home track with a smile a year on from a testing nightmare with Honda engines and becoming the immediate focus when his car's right rear wheel came off.

"It was a very, very small problem but very graphic and very obvious because a auto in the gravel is a big thing".

"Now in winter testing we need to make sure that we optimise this package but so far I'm very happy and very optimistic, I think the team did an fantastic job in the last couple of months", added the former Renault and Ferrari driver.

"I think the whole team feels proud of this auto", Boullier said.

"I know a lot of people from Renault from my past".

The right rear wheel came off Alonso's vehicle during the first 40 minutes of a chilly morning in Spain as teams took part in their first official test since November.

"We didn't plan to run much this morning in our scheduled test programme, and we had planned fundamental changes on the auto over lunch", he added.

"When we had that issue we reverse the programme, we didn't have as big a stop for lunch that we planned".

With a wheel nut failure given as the cause, McLaren spent the majority of the morning investigating the issue before managing four further laps before lunch, but additional mileage in the afternoon - in both dry and wet conditions - left Alonso much more optimistic after ending the day seventh-fastest overall. "Everyone is quite relaxed, getting on with it and it is quite an easy fix", said Brown, who had said last week that he expected all eyes to be on McLaren this season. There are a few things we are trying to change and adapt like every new auto. Also I think on the performance side it is very early to say but everything seems to be in line with our expectations and the windtunnel and the data we had before coming to the test.

"The auto felt very good here, good potential".

When asked about the new vehicle, Alonso said, "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".

"We want to be competitive, we have to be competitive and I hope we are back to at least fight with the top boys".

Fellow driver Stoffel Vandoorne, on the other hand, said that he is hoping for a more stable season with the MCL33.

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