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Chinese GP: Practice notes - McLaren

NEWS STORY
10/04/2015

McLaren-Honda enjoyed a positive first day of practice in Shanghai - both cars regularly ran inside the top 10 in both sessions, eventually finishing 10th (Jenson Button) and 12th (Fernando Alonso) at the end of this afternoon's session.

The MP4-30 appears to behave fairly well around the fast sweeps of the Shanghai International Circuit, although it is still too tricky to get an accurate read on performance as various cars were running on different fuel loads, and a mid-session yellow-flag period (to retrieve Felipe Massa's car) meant that some drivers were compromised while attempting to set lap-times on fresh Option rubber.

Nonetheless, the team has gathered some positive momentum, which it will take into tomorrow's practice and qualifying sessions.

Jenson Button: "We look reasonably good out there, but that can perhaps be explained by the fact that we seem to have been able to extract the maximum out of our car today, whereas perhaps some of the other teams haven't.

"Still, the car feels nice to drive - especially when we're running on the Option tyre. However, our one-lap pace seems to be better than our performance over a long run, which is a turnaround from how we went in Malaysia. But I think we can make some improvements in that area for tomorrow.

"Irrespective of today's finishing position, the feeling with the car is good. There's still plenty of room for improvement, but I'm looking forward to the rest of the weekend nonetheless. There's been progress today - hashtag progress!"

Fernando Alonso: "It's been a very positive Friday for us - I enjoyed both sessions. We completed our aero programme during the morning, and then focused on set-up work this afternoon.

"All the updates we brought here seem to be working as we'd expected, and they've put us closer to the mid-pack. It's very encouraging to see that we're moving firmly in the right direction - it's a question of time as to when we'll become competitive.

"Obviously, we began the season from a lower starting point than some of the other teams, so it's been easier for us to make quick improvements, but the team is so focused and determined to improve - that's very impressive.

"While it's been great today to run in the middle of the pack - and I want to be able to maintain that sort of progress - we need to keep our feet on the ground: we saw in the first two races that the others tend to take a step forward in qualifying, so we'll see what happens tomorrow."

Eric Boullier, Racing director: "While we won't get carried away with seeing both cars finish this afternoon's session in respectable positions, it's always encouraging to see signs of positive progress.

"As we witnessed in Malaysia a fortnight ago, we're continuing intensively to develop and improve MP4-30, and today's sessions proved to be no exception. Indeed, both Fernando and Jenson were reasonably happy with their cars' balance, and our engineers will look to refine that tonight.

"Tomorrow, we'll acquire a much clearer read of our rivals' respective performance once we get into qualifying. But, for the moment, it's nice to see that we're continuing to take some good steps forward with both the chassis and the power unit."

Yasuhisa Arai, Honda R&D senior managing officer - chief officer of motorsport: "Today, we saw some positive progress with the power unit's hardware reliability - and that has led us to be able to adjust the energy management system to cater for the needs of both Fernando and Jenson. I'm looking forward to a further step tomorrow."

Check out our Friday gallery, here.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by Rock Doc, 11/04/2015 1:55

"Let's face it McLaren never expected this sort of start. It is a disaster, but they are manning up to it. Taking it step by step. They are making progress but their showing in the last race was flattered by pit-stops. To show true progress they need both cars in Q2 and get them to the end

I have no doubt that Honda will get the engine up to speed by mid season. It may be flaky but it should have the pace. But what of the car itself. So far we cannot judge the cars performance compared to the rest of the field. But going from the last few seasons we should not expect much. Even with the best engine last year they were not in the fight. If they are expecting the Honda engine to make up the difference then it has a long way to go."

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2. Posted by gturner38, 10/04/2015 23:35

"Let's put in perspective what McLaren has done. In Australia, they were the 2015 equivalent of last year's Caterham. In Malaysia, they were where Lotus was. Now they are up to around the results Ferrari were having in early 2014. I know the results might be deceptive if some teams didn't make a qualifying run in practice, but it really is a positive result compared to where they started. I'm sure they aren't thrilled to be back where they are, but their options are to either sulk and complain or get on with the program and try to catch up. I'm far happier with the way McLaren is handling their tough start than I am with Red Bull's response."

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3. Posted by REV, 10/04/2015 17:47

"Given where they started from, this is good progress and is encouraging for the whole team. We shouldn't forget that it's still winter testing for McLaren!"

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4. Posted by Darvi, 10/04/2015 12:57

"Yes, progress indeed although I'd question Monsieur Boullier's assertion that 10th and 12th are respectable positions for a team that is supposed to be at the front....... If it was me I'd be gutted. Still, they got through both sessions without breaking down, so break out the Champagne!"

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