Alonso braced for challenging milestone weekend

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Fernando Alonso is expecting his 300th weekend of Formula One grand prix racing to be a challenging one.

Montreal’s Canadian Grand Prix takes place on one of the more power-dependent circuits on the calendar, due to its long back-straight. McLaren has struggled for straight-line speed this year due to a combination of an underpowered Renault power unit and an underperforming aerodynamic package.

The race will see Alonso become the fourth man — after Rubens Barichello, Michael Schumacher and Jenson Button — to enter his 300th race, although if his car makes it to the grid on Sunday it will be his 298th start.

Reflecting on his milestone weekend, he said: “This will certainly be a tough circuit for us, but we’re making progress with our package race-by-race. A little bit of the drama or changeable weather conditions we’ve seen in Canada so many times in the past could offer us some opportunities — it’s up to us to take advantage of every possibility.”

Alonso arrives in Canada having gone quickest in the first test session for the Le Mans 24 Hours, which he is set to contest for Toyota. The Spaniard will head back to France from Montreal next week, which culminates in the famous endurance race on June 16-17. He will then compete in F1’s first ever triple header (France-Austria-Great Britain).

McLaren’s engine supplier, Renault, will bring an engine upgrade to Montreal, but team boss Eric Boullier shares Alonso’s apprehensions about the weekend.

“We know it won’t be an easy weekend for us, but it’s important we focus on getting ourselves in the most representative grid slots we can to be able to fight on Sunday,” Boullier said. “We’ve had a couple of difficult weekends, so hopefully in Montreal we’ll be able to see further progress and bring home some points.”

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