SHANGHAI, China -- Fernando Alonso insists McLaren's early season results have been "very good" and it's time expectations on the eight-time constructors' champions were re-evaluated.
McLaren's off-season switch from Honda to Renault power came with enormous expectation that they would once again be fighting for victories and podiums after spending four years in Formula One's wilderness. This was made stronger by Alonso's own belief that McLaren had the strongest chassis on the grid throughout the 2017 season and only failed due to Honda's lack of power.
Double points finishes in Australia and Bahrain have McLaren heading into this weekend's Chinese Grand Prix third in the constructors' championship and Alonso says the improvement from 12 months ago is night and day.
"I don't know exactly what people were expecting from one season to another when the regulations stay the same and there are three teams ahead of everyone," Alonso said. "Last year after three races [we scored] zero points. Bahrain last year, Stoffel didn't make the start. On the grid he was pulling the car into the pitlane. This year, two races, four cars to the chequered flag. This is a very good start.
"I think we're the only team now, with pit stop problem with Ferrari and Haas and Red Bull retirements, Now it's only one team remaining with no issues at all -- that's only McLaren. Look at the facts not the feelings or the wishes or the dreams."
Nevertheless, Alonso says there's plenty of work to be done if McLaren is to continue closing the gap to the frontrunners and Haas -- who the Spaniard feels is just ahead at the moment.
"There are many problems to solve, the qualifying pace, the pace in general, we're still far from the top three teams, we're still far from Red Bull who have the same power unit. No doubt we need to improve, we need to bring updates, we need to find speed. At the same time, when we don't have that pace, when we don't have that speed in qualifying, we are still scoring points, which gives us confidence for the future.
"It's difficult to know [the pecking order], it keeps changing track to track as it depends on the circuit characteristics. I believe Haas is still a little bit an advantage in the midfield group. This is something we need to improve quickly. We need to make this pass as soon as possible."