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Former McLaren man Ramirez sees team in a happy place

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F1 veteran and former McLaren team coordinator Jo Ramirez believes there's a very different atmosphere at the British team this year.

After a disconsolate period of three years with engine partner Honda, the Woking-based outfit has rekindled its racing spirit thanks to its new deal with Renault.

For Ramirez, who worked at McLaren from 1984 to 2001, his former team is now racing towards the light at the end of the tunnel.

"They're much happier," the 76-year-old veteran told Spanish radio Cadena Cope.

"They are working very well with Renault engineers because the European people are more open.

"I see them enjoying the moment and doing everything with a lot of passion because they know that at the end of the tunnel they will get results again," he added.

Like many, Ramirez believes Red Bull's results last year with Renault provide a good benchmark for McLaren in 2018, but also pressure and motivation.

"They have done enough podiums and victories with this engine that they will have to do the same, because if we listen to what Renault and Prost tell us, the engine will be at the level of the Mercedes of last year," he said.

"Maybe they will even make an incredible engine while Mercedes suffers. I don't know, but there is hope."

The man who started working in F1 in the early sixties also backed Fernando Alonso's decision to dovetail a WEC program with Toyota with his McLaren F1 commitments, saying the Spaniard must have "a crazy desire to sit in the car".

"(Zak) Brown is helping him because it's what Fernando wants to do," said Ramirez.

"In the past we saw F1 drivers racing every weekend in other categories, so in my opinion the more time you spend in a racing car, the better."

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