Fernando Alonso: McLaren-Honda driver expects 'big reaction' from team

Coverage of the Australian Grand Prix is available on BBC Radio 5 live and the BBC Sport website

Fernando Alonso has made it clear he expects a quick response from his McLaren-Honda team after their poor start to the season.

The two-time world champion had hoped to be challenging at the front this term, but he qualified 13th for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

That followed a pre-season in which the team's Honda engine was both unreliable and uncompetitive.

"I expect a big change in the team, a big reaction," the Spaniard, 35, said.

"We will not be 13th all season, or I will not be."

He said the weekend was progress after a tough winter, but added: "It's not enough.

"We are McLaren-Honda. If we are not in the top five, on the podium, the rest is losing time."

McLaren have had two difficult seasons since the start of their relationship with Honda in 2015, but the partnership expected a big step forward this year after finishing sixth in the constructors' championship last season.

However the engine had to be changed several times in pre-season testing.

Engine-related failures during F1 testing: Mercedes 0, Ferrari 1, McLaren 7

It has run more reliably in Australia this weekend but it still has a vibration problem that needs managing and is affecting performance, and a significant overall shortfall to the other engines.

Honda F1 boss Yusuke Hasegawa said: "After the winter test we are having strong pressure from the team and the driver, but we try to keep improving.

"We didn't do a great job. So we need to do that.

"I cannot guarantee when we will get more power but as soon as possible we try to introduce a new specification for that."

Alonso in qualifying
The Spaniard qualified in the top 10 on nine occasions last season
His best 2016 qualifying result was seventh at the Hungarian Grand Prix
He improved on his qualifying position in six races in 2016
Alonso has 22 career pole positions, with his last one at the 2012 German Grand Prix

McLaren have approached Mercedes about using their engines in the future despite having a multi-year contract with Honda, as previously revealed by BBC Sport.

McLaren racing director Eric Boullier said: "I am not going to comment on these kind of discussions. It is a private discussion we have with Honda to recover, considering all options.

"We are responsible for McLaren and Hasegawa is responsible for Honda. As partners we try to help each other and support each other because the key secret is to be as integrated as possible."

Alonso in a deckchair
A more relaxing time for Alonso

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