Alonso: Mercedes won’t repeat 2014

Alonso does not think Mercedes will dominate Formula One this year in the same way it did in 2014, despite a remarkable opening day of testing for the world champions.

On a day when Alonso completed just six laps in the new McLaren-Honda, Nico Rosberg racked up 157 in the impressively-reliable Mercedes W06. But Alonso sees nothing unusual about his rival’s opening day and expects its iron grip on the top spot in the sport to loosen this year.

“It’s normal that the team that dominates last year, winning nearly all the races, are so fast on the first day again and do 150 laps – they have an advantage of performance and everything for this year to start the season. This is normal,” he said. “They have a continuation of a dominant car and that is probably a little bit easier compared to us. We have a new power unit, a very extreme and aggressive car design.

“But I don’t think Mercedes will win so many races this year. They are the favourites, yes, but I think all the other teams are more prepared than last year.”

But Mercedes boss Toto Wolff was not worried about Alonso’s prediction, saying his team knows it needs to be humble and continue to work hard.

“The previous record [for most wins in a season] of McLaren wasn’t beaten for many years, so it means that is something exceptional and you should not expect that to happen again, because if you set your own benchmark so high you will eventually fail,” Wolff said. “It will demotivate you and our aim is to have a very competitive car perform well and do the best we can and our target is to be the front running team able to win races regularly.

“That is what we expect from ourselves. If you happen to have a season like last year, then that is obviously exceptional. It’s not something you can anticipate. With Fernando and the other teams [competing], it’s clear that we should keep ourselves motivated.”

Speaking about the opening day, he added: “I don’t want to sound overconfident, we need to stay humble. It was a really good first day and for me it was the best one I’ve seen in terms of reliability and mileage. Of course we didn’t push the limits in terms of the car and the systems, but for a first day it was very solid. If you speak to Nico [Rosberg], he says it’s one of the best first days. Does it mean a lot? No, but it’s better to have a good first day than a bad one.”