Fernando Alonso: Renault engine data makes McLaren 'very confident' for 2018

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ESPN's Way-Too-Early F1 predictions for 2018 (1:42)

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For the first time in three years McLaren's expectations ahead of the new Formula One season are based on facts rather than hope, and that has put the team in a confident mood according to Fernando Alonso.

After three seasons using unreliable and underperforming Honda engines, McLaren is making the switch to Renault power in 2018 with the aim of returning to the podium for the first time since 2014.

High hopes at the start of each season of the McLaren-Honda partnership were invariably crushed at the opening tests by a spate of reliability issues and a clear deficit in power to rival teams.

After witnessing all three pre-seasons with Honda, Alonso says the mood in Woking is completely different ahead of the 2018 season.

"We are very confident," Alonso said. "I think at McLaren we have made a few changes for this year, the most obvious being the power unit with the Renault, which I think is quite a high motivation now in the team.

"The mood for all of us is quite different this year compared to the last three years. We always had expectations that the season could be a good one for us. But I think this year we have more facts than any previous years, that they were only hopes. This year we have more numbers that we can touch, finally.

"We would like to be on the podiums. We'd like to be fighting for race wins if the opportunity arrives and I think the team now is ready. After three years of struggling, three years of hard learning, you are more prepared.

"I think if you have three or one domination year, one time you're not that competitive or you don't have that advantage, you are not able to deliver.

"I think the struggle that we had in the last three years made the team very strong and completely ready for a fight."

McLaren executive director Zak Brown is also confident ahead of the new season, revealing that the MCL33 passed its crash tests last week and is producing promising performance numbers in simulations.

"Everything is going really well on car design," Brown said. "We have the engine in the back, we have just passed our crash tests and that all went according to plan. We will launch the car on February 23 and we will be on track for the first time in February 26.

"All the simulation we are doing is where we want to be over last year. Sometimes it works in simulation and doesn't work when it hits the race track, but it did [work] more often than not last year, so I think we're going to be in for a strong season."