Alonso targets problem-free race in hope for points

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Fernando Alonso is still eyeing his first points of the 2017 season, hoping McLaren can produce a trouble-free race on the streets of Azerbaijan.

The Spaniard will be starting from the back of the grid after collecting a 40-place grid penalty for new engine components and the performance of MCL32 would suggest progress will be hard to make on Sunday.

However, with the weekend blighted by countless yellow flag interruptions as well as several red flag suspensions, high attrition and the chance for a surprise result does seem more likely. 

Knowing he along with team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne were always going to start on the back row, the double world champion revealed McLaren had opted to focus on race setup.

“We did a good job today in terms of preparing for the race: we only used one set of tyres, put in low fuel and did some checks," he explained. "We know we’re not competitive around here, but the race is going to be long and demanding.

“We’ve seen many mistakes from almost every driver and we need to avoid making any of those tomorrow.”

Despite being so reliant on problems ahead, Alonso, who tested the 'Spec 3' Honda power unit aimed at curing their ongoing issues on Friday, does still value in treating the race in Baku as any other he has participated in this year.

“In these kind of Grands Prix, we need to try and finish the race, get some data for the team, and keep developing the car,” he claimed.

“We need to make sure we keep away from the walls tomorrow and let’s also hope we can end up in the points."

Meanwhile, McLaren racing director Eric Boullier has been less gracious in his assessment of the British team's weekend so far.

"I am a racer, so I think this is the most painful weekend I have ever had," the Frenchman said.

"This afternoon's result was particularly disappointing - we always knew that we'd be towards the back due to the engine penalties both drivers have taken this weekend, but it's never satisfying to be right at the back of the grid."