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MELBOURNEUpdate:
Fernando Alonso con el McLaren Honda en Australia.
PAUL CROCKAFP

McLaren-Honda, in practice ahead of the Australian GP, have cut their top speed deficit on the fastest cars by more than 10km/h compared to testing in Barcelona. In practice, Fernando Alonso managed a top speed of 314.5km/h, with Sebastian Vettel going fastest at 321.7km/h, a difference of just 7.2 km/h.

Fernando Alonso in the McLaren-Honda in Australia
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Fernando Alonso in the McLaren-Honda in AustraliaDIEGO AZUBELEFE

McLaren-Honda improvement from testing

That's a huge improvement in terms of the difference between the cars from testing, where Fernando Alonso's top speed was 17.5km/h behind the 332.3km/h set by the Sauber, which runs a Ferrari engine.

However the eagle-eyed of you will have spotted that the top speed of the McLaren-Honda hasn't really improved: it actually managed 314.8km/h in testing.

Albert Park favours McLaren-Honda

While the power output and reliability of Fernando Alonso's McLaren has got better, the big difference is that Albert Park doesn't have as long a straight as Barcelona, meaning McLaren Honda's rivals can't hit their top speed. (And the McLaren is able to get to its top speed in the space available.) The effect of the shorter straight is to bunch the top speeds up as can be seen from the table below, with less than 10 km/h separating the pack. 

Though McLaren would overall just prefer more power, no doubt they'll be happy, at least for now, that the circuit for the opening race is slightly in their favour.

Hamilton takes pole in Australian GP

1.S. VettelFerrari321.7
2.L. HamiltonMercedes320.9
3.R. GrosjeanHaas320.8
4.K. RaikkonenFerrari320.8
5.N. HulkenbergRenault320.7
6.L. StrollWilliams320.1
7.M. VerstappenRed Bull318.3
8.K. MagnussenHaas318.2
9.V. BottasMercedes317.4
10.J. PalmerRenault317.0
11.E. OconForce India316.7
12.D. RicciardoRed Bull316.1
13.D. KvyatToro Rosso315.6
14.S. PérezForce India315.2
15.F. MassaWilliams314.9
16.F. AlonsoMcLaren314.5
17.M. EricssonSauber313.8
18.C. SainzToro Rosso313.6
19.P. WehrleinSauber313.4
20.S. VandoorneMcLaren312.3
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