Monday, 30 March 2015

McLaren encouraged by their improvements despite double DNF

(McLaren Honda)

The McLaren Honda Formula One Team can take some comfort away from the weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix because although neither Jenson Button nor Fernando Alonso finished the race they were able to catch other cars.

Although Alonso retired from the race in the early stages due to an issue with the car, Jenson Button suffered a problem with the turbo but managed to get the car back to the garage. Speaking after the event the 2009 world champion stated:

The start of the race was a bit of a mess for me: I’d had a longer-than-normal pit-stop under the Safety Car, and came out behind Roberto [Mehri], who didn’t close down the gap before the Safety Car came in. At the restart, I then started about four or five seconds behind the pack, had to get past him, then chased down the cars in front – which hurt my tyres.
“But I enjoyed it out there – we’re actually racing people. To be able to see one of the Red Bulls ahead of me – and so far into the race – was obviously a nice surprise. And we were able to mix it with the others a little bit more, too. Fighting in the pack is the most positive thing to take away from this weekend – hopefully, before too long, we can start to pick them off on a race-by-race basis.
“Today has been a useful day; it’s just a pity that both Fernando and I ended up finishing it early.’

Fernando Alonso completed just 21 laps of the Malaysian Grand Prix after retiring from the event with an ERS Cooling issue. The Spaniard set his fastest lap on lap 17 of 1m 48.460s. Speaking following the race the double world champion stated:

This whole weekend has been better than I expected.

“The main positive to take away from today is the fact that we were able to run with other cars – Jenson and I weren’t simply fighting with each other. That was the first step we needed to take, and we’ve taken it already.

“Indeed, our race pace was surprisingly good; I was running with the pack, and I was even able to catch the Red Bulls before the pit-stops. That was a nice surprise.

“We still need a little more time to investigate the exact cause of my retirement. The team came over the radio to tell me to back off a little, to save the car, so I brought it back to the pits.

“For us, these are the sort of reliability problems you’d usually discover in pre-season testing, but, given our lack of running over the winter, unfortunately we’re likely to encounter such issues in the first few races of the year.

“Hopefully, we can take another step forward in China.’

Jenson Button was happy that the team were able to compete with the other cars even commenting on the radio saying that he was surprised that they were competing with their rivals.

McLaren Racing Director Eric Boullier was extremely pleased with the progress made by the Woking based outfit over the weekend. Speaking following the race the Frenchman stated:

The fact that neither Fernando nor Jenson finished today’s race is of course disappointing, but they both drove extremely well in arduous, challenging and frustrating conditions.
“Moreover, in line with the MP4-30’s improved qualifying pace of yesterday, its race pace today was also a significant improvement over what it showed in Melbourne two weeks ago.
“Furthermore, the 62 laps driven by Fernando and Jenson this afternoon have garnered us additional invaluable data that will inform the ongoing intense development programme in which we are relentlessly engaged.
“Last but far from least, I want to say ‘merci beaucoup’ to our mechanics, a mettlesome troupe who have been working with indefatigable tenacity, in severe heat and humidity, ever since we arrived in Sepang.’

Honda R&D Senior Managing Officer – Chief Officer of Motorsport Yasuhisa Arai commented by saying:

Fernando was showing some good pace today until we had to pull his car out of the race with an ERS cooling issue. Obviously, that was a big disappointment for us.
“Jenson’s car then encountered a turbo issue, when we were just about to push to maintain his position within a busy, jostling pack.
“Both retirements were a result of the harsh use of the power unit within competitive race conditions, not the result of the high-temperature conditions encountered at this circuit.
“We’ll investigate the issues further and aim to improve things before Shanghai.’

© Ben Johnston 2015

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