Fernando Alonso expects McLaren to be competitive

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The Independent Online

Fernando Alonso is fully expecting McLaren to be challenging for a podium place in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button have both so far complained about their new car ahead of the latest Formula One campaign.

Throughout testing the MP4-26 appeared to be wanting for pace, and in particular struggled for reliability, and the British duo feel they are under-prepared in comparison to their rivals.

Double world champion Alonso, however, is not fooled as he said: "They're better than they look."

Speaking to Spanish newspaper El Pais, the Ferrari star added: "Winter testing doesn't explain anything.

"They say themselves they are expecting a little more, so perhaps they will be at a similar level to the best (in Australia) and then go on ahead.

"When we get there, we'll see. McLaren are not going to be fighting for 10th place, but rather the podium."

Alonso has also dismissed the theory that given the contrasting driving styles of Hamilton and Button, that has complicated the design of the car.

"I think not because Formula One is dominated by aerodynamics," said Alonso.

"For example, if a wind tunnel predicts a gain of a tenth of a second, that is valid for Alonso, (Felipe) Massa, Hamilton, Button and all the others, regardless of the driving style of each.

"Maybe the tyres are all that matter in terms of having to adapt your way of driving."