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McLaren backs under-fire Alonso

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McLaren is standing firmly behind its new star driver Fernando Alonso.

Following his high-profile switch from the now-resurgent Ferrari to struggling McLaren-Honda, the Spaniard has been taking flak in recent days.

A presenter for Sky Italia, for instance, has reportedly been suspended for issuing an insulting ‘tweet’ that caused Alonso to ignore the broadcaster in China last weekend.

McLaren says it fully backs its driver.

“We were astonished and disappointed by Ms (Paola) Saluzzi’s tweet, which we regarded as rude, inaccurate, inappropriate and gratuitous,” a spokesman for the Woking based team said, “and we are pleased that it has been deleted.

“We are aware that Ms Saluzzi has apologised for it, and rightly so.”

But doubts remain about the health of the McLaren-Alonso relationship, particularly after the Barcelona testing crash saga and his infamous falling out with the team in 2007.

“Alonso is happy at McLaren,” team boss Eric Boullier insists to Italy’s La Gazzetta dello Sport. “I don’t know how many times I have to say it.

“People want to create problems between us, but there are none.

“Although he raced here seven years ago, the team and the people around him are new and while it takes time for everyone to grow together, I can tell you I am very happy with the atmosphere in the team and the way it is working.

“Things will improve gradually as the season goes on,” the Frenchman promised.

His last comment is undoubtedly about the current performance of the McLaren-Honda package, and the likelihood Alonso and teammate Jenson Button will struggle on the ‘power circuit’ of Bahrain this weekend.

After that, though, comes Barcelona, and Boullier is quoted by Autosprint as saying that in Spain “We will have another evolution of the engine.

“We know that the power unit has ample room for improvement, but the MP4-30 will also progress,” he added.

“We will have a major aerodynamic package (for Barcelona) on a track that is traditionally one of the places most indicative of whether you are doing a good job or not,” said Boullier. (GMM)

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