• McLaren-Honda driver Fernando Alonso

McLaren-Honda driver Fernando Alonso (Photo : Getty Images News)

McLaren-Honda team manager Eric Boullier admits that the weaknesses of his team will be exposed at Shanghai International Circuit's long back and pit straights during the Chinese Gran Prix this weekend.

Among their woes is the lack of power in the Honda engine.

Boullier noted that the  Chinese Grand Prix will be unpredictable since the Shanghai International Circuit is tough on cars, tires and power units. 

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According to Boullier, the Shanghai International Circuit with its long, fast straights is very different from the Albert Park in Melbourne, which was used in the Australian Gran Prix, and will likely expose their weaknesses more than the latter.

Boullier insists that McLaren-Honda will "attack the race" with their "usual fighting spirit" and that they will ensure reliability with both cars before putting their focus on performance. He added that the weather is often precarious.

The Woking-based McLaren-Honda team had a woeful start in 2017 due to reliability problems during winter testing. While McLaren avoided the major reliability issues that dogged them in winter testing, their speed remained poor in Australia, with Stoffel Vandoorne being the slowest through the speed traps in qualifying and with Alonso third to the last. 

Fernando Alonso, who had exceeded expectations at Albert Park by doing well for much of the race before being forced to retire late on due to problems with suspension, revealed that during testing he felt the McLaren-Honda team was 30 kph slower than their rivals.

Honda F1 chief Yusuke Hasegawa agrees that a tough weekend is ahead for their team, noting that the changeable weather conditions will affect the set-up and balance of cars. He also pointed out that the Shanghai track's slow- and medium-speed corners and a couple of very long straights put a lot of stress on the power unit. 

The key, according to Hasegawa, will be "preparation and set-up."

Meanwhile, Antonio Giovinazzi is expected to suit up for Ferrari in Shanghai.

Giovinazzi, who is a reserve driver for Ferrari, raced for Swiss team Sauber in the Australian Grand Prix. He replaced Sauber's main driver Pascal Wehrlein who pulled out from the race.