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Fernando Alonso 'optimistic' of strong Austrian GP with Honda upgrade

Fernando Alonso says he is "optimistic" McLaren can put in a strong performance at the Austrian Grand Prix, with the team set to be boosted by an upgraded Honda engine.

McLaren is hoping to make a step forward in Austria after engine supplier Honda confirmed both cars plan to run with its updated 'Spec Three' power unit this weekend. Alonso ran the new engine in Friday practice at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, with Honda reporting lap-time gains of around 0.3s.

Fernando Alonso. Clive Rose/Getty Images
Following its worst start to a Formula One season, McLaren finally scored its first points of 2017 thanks to Alonso's ninth place finish in Baku. Jenson Button qualified a shock third during a rain-affected qualifying session at last year's Austrian Grand Prix, before going on to finish sixth in the race. Alonso -- who has failed to record a finish in Austria while at McLaren -- is hopeful the team can pull off a similar performance this weekend.

"There are reasons to feel more optimistic about our weekend in Austria," Alonso said. "It's a circuit that's not as dependent on power as some of the recent races, and I think our car will be better suited to the twists and turns of the Spielberg circuit. I think we'll be able to push hard.

"We've also got a couple of useful steps coming on the car, including -- hopefully -- Honda's revised Spec Three power unit, which I tried during Friday practice in Azerbaijan. Every step is important, so I'm looking forward to a positive weekend where we can once again get everything out of the car.

"Our performance [in Baku] not only showed that the foundations of our car package are strong, but also that our operational team -- our mechanics, engineers and strategists -- are all racers, poised and waiting to take advantage of any situation. Two points may have been a small consolation after an extremely tough weekend, but, as I said at the time, we'll take it and use it to drive us forwards."

Stoffel Vandoorne, who recorded his best finish of the season so far with 12th in Azerbaijan, says he is hoping for a trouble-free weekend as he attempts to register his first points of the campaign.

"Scoring points in the last race was very good for the whole team's motivation and morale, and I'm hopeful that we'll be able to make further progress in Austria," Vandoorne said. "We've been bringing upgrades to every race, so a problem-free weekend, at a circuit that doesn't disadvantage us, would really allow us to gain some momentum. Of course, we're still some way off where we want to be, but a respectable result in Austria would really give the team an added boost."

Source: http://www.espn.co.uk/f1/story/_/id/19836038/fernando-alonso-optimistic-strong-austrian-gp-honda-upgrade

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