Alonso opts for tennis after first-lap Honda failure

Fernando Alonso brings his McLaren-Honda to a stop on his first lap of the weekend during practice for the Spanish GP. (Photo: Dom Romney/LAT Images)
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Fernando Alonso and McLaren endured a disastrous start to the former World Champions home race in Spain when he suffered a spectacular engine failure just seconds after leaving the pit lane at the start of FP1.

Oil gushed out of the back of the car as it was craned away, and Alonso raised a few eyebrows by leaving the circuit soon afterward. He then posted pictures of himself playing tennis with his physio, and made it clear that he had been give time off to catch up on his training. He later returned to run in FP2.

Keeping the body active 😇

A post shared by Fernando Alonso (@fernandoalo_oficial) on

“The engine was not good enough,” he said when asked what the problem was. “We went out of the pit lane and there was a hole in the engine, and the oil was going out. The engine blew up after 400 meters, so I guess it was not ready to get used.

“Obviously it’s not ideal, but it’s better on Friday than on Sunday. We didn’t finish any race yet this year, we had always Friday and Saturday good days, and on Saturday we didn’t finish the race, so I have the feeling that this one will be a bad Friday and a good Saturday and a good Sunday.”

Asked about the damage his career is suffering due to Honda’s problems this year, he said: “The thing is not my career, it’s not my ability, it’s my image. It’s their career, it’s their ability, it’s their money and it’s their image. I try to support the team, I try to drive as fast as I can, but I think the problem is entirely mine, it’s much bigger for them.”

He said he’d gone to play tennis because his Indy travel schedule had impacted his training recently.

“It was my decision. I had very little time in these weeks to train, with planes and traveling, etc. When I confirmed that I had two hours free instead of being here on the sofa watching television, I went for some training. So my dedication is still 100 percent to my fitness, and to my preparation.”