MONTMELO, Spain -- Despite a challenging two weeks of pre-season littered with reliability gremlins, Fernando Alonso and McLaren head to the Australian Grand Prix in a defiant mood.
McLaren's frustrating pre-season continued on Friday as Alonso stopped early in the morning after an oil leak caused a turbo failure in his car. That issue prompted an engine change, although the Spaniard returned in the afternoon to complete 93 laps, including a late hyper-soft tyre run to second position, albeit 0.5s behind Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen.
Alonso was in a buoyant mood on Friday evening, posting the following message to Instagram that there was still plenty of performance to squeeze from his orange McLaren.
Although the team finished its troubled winter at the bottom of the mileage charts for the third time in the last four seasons, racing director Eric Boullier said McLaren had every reason to be encouraged going to the Australian Grand Prix.
"When Fernando crossed the line he was happy on the radio!" Boullier told Sky Sports after the final day of testing. He's in a good mood. That's the boost we needed before we go racing."
Boullier played down the significance of the issues McLaren encountered, saying it was a natural by-product of its switch from Honda to Renault engines for 2018.
"We are trying to get McLaren back to where it should be. Like anything, you don't do it in one day. There will be a few glitches but we haven't lost our ability to design fast cars."