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Chinese GP: Qualifying notes - McLaren

NEWS STORY
14/04/2018

The final practice session of the weekend provided the team with a good indication of conditions and track evolution in preparation for Sunday's race. Both drivers reported strong wind at key sections of the track but neither was particularly troubled by it. Both cars completed their programmes, the data from which is used to inform the direction for set-up for the following sessions and most importantly, the race.

In Q1 both cars completed two runs each and were never threatened by the chasing pack, comfortably progressing through to Q2.

The next session was always going to prove to be more challenging in the tight midfield pack. Both drivers completed one run each and qualified next to each other on the grid - Fernando in 13th and Stoffel 14th.

Fernando Alonso: "We didn't have the pace to make it into Q3 today. After we were P9 in Q1, we were a little bit more optimistic and thought we could make it into the top 10, but then in Q2 we weren't quick enough.

"We were P11 in Australia, P13 in Bahrain and here, and that's where we are at the moment for qualifying. Not enough, we know, as we seem to be slow on the straights, but we have the potential to improve that.

"Anyway, making it into Q3 would've meant starting the race tomorrow on Ultrasoft tyres, which I believe will degrade quite quickly on a hotter track due to the sunny weather forecast for tomorrow. So, in the end, I'm happy with P13 and a free choice of tyres.

"Our race pace is a little bit better than our quali pace, so by taking good care of the tyres, and with a good start and a good strategy, points are still very possible for us."

Stoffel Vandoorne: "Today's result is obviously a little bit disappointing, but we're more or less in the positions we were expecting to be in. Since the start of the season we've been around these places in qualifying, so this is how it is at the moment. There's some work ahead of us to improve our performance.

"On the positive side, our long run pace from Friday practice looks very promising, so we have something to play for tomorrow. We'll also have free tyre choice, which looks to be something pretty crucial again here and will make a difference. The higher temperatures expected for tomorrow will play to our advantage in terms of tyre degradation, as most people ahead of us will be on the Ultrasofts.

"We're looking to be ambitious again, take any opportunities, make no mistakes and have a strong race."

Eric Boullier: "Given that the Bahrain and Chinese Grands Prix take place on consecutive weekends, we knew we wouldn't be expecting a significant change in performance from one to the next.

"Of course, since Bahrain, we've taken steps to adapt our approach to qualifying, but any direct improvement is part of a longer-term development plan that is in the pipeline for the coming races.

"Nevertheless, the team has been meticulous in our preparation for every session this weekend using our learning from Bahrain and the data we've been gathering here. Although we're not expecting overnight miracles, we believe our race pace will continue to be more representative of our true performance.

"As we know, the all-important result from any grand prix weekend comes in the race, and that's where our focus firmly lies. Tyre strategy will be key and having a free choice is a certain advantage over the cars further ahead of us. Our aim is to continue our momentum from the past two race days and bring home some more valuable points tomorrow afternoon."

Check out our Saturday gallery from Shanghai, here.

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