Alonso pleased by Red Bull pace, sure McLaren can compete in 2018

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Fernando Alonso admits Red Bull's recent pace and results have enthused him as his McLaren team is set to switch to the same Renault engines from 2018.

Though the Spaniard is not officially confirmed at the Woking-based outfit for next season, it is widely expected he will sign for at least one more season with an announcement coming at the United States Grand Prix at the latest.

And since McLaren confirmed they would be ending their partnership with Honda and tieing up with Renault, the company Alonso won his two Formula 1 titles with in 2005 and 2006, the 36-year-old admits they have been following Red Bull's results closely.

“We saw in Monza a very good performance from Red Bull, which is a power circuit,” he said in Suzuka on Thursday. “We were already quite happy with that Red Bull performance.       

"Malaysia was another step forward as they beat the Mercedes without rain, without any different strategy, without anything. So that was good.”

Indeed, what Max Verstappen's victory at Sepang last Sunday suggested was that a Renault-powered car could compete with Mercedes and Ferrari if it has the right chassis, with Alonso acknowledging Red Bull's step forward with the RB13.

“That at the same point puts some pressure on McLaren," he added, "that car I think is quite efficient right now, and is quite powerful on the chassis side, that Red Bull.

"We need to make sure that we do our job on the chassis side, because the engine can deliver wins, as Red Bull proves. We need to match that performance on the chassis, and that is a challenge for sure.”

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Nevertheless, the 36-year-old believes McLaren should welcome the chance to prove themselves against the best teams and is sure it is possible for them to come out on top.“Yeah, I think so.

“Yeah, I think so," he said. "I think that the challenge is, how can McLaren be in front? But McLaren should never be afraid of matching any other team because McLaren should be any other team.”