McLaren Honda had a great Chinese Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit on Sunday as for the first time this season the Woking based outfit were able to bring both cars home with Fernando Alonso finishing the race in 12th place.
Jenson Button would have finished the race in 13th place however the 2009 world champion was handed a post-race time penalty for causing a collision with the Lotus F1 Team’s Pastor Maldonado.
Button was also handed two penalty points on his FIA Super Licence. Fernando Alonso started the race from 18th place on the grid and finished the event in 12th place. Speaking following the race the double world champion stated:
‘This wasn’t the easiest race for us. We weren’t very competitive at the beginning, then we had a few issues with the aero behaviour of the car, which slowed me down in the middle stint, but I was able to push a bit harder on the soft tyre at the end of the race.
“We still need to learn a lot more about this car in order to extract its maximum, but an afternoon like today was extremely useful for us as it enabled us to better understand the car.
“It was a useful race for me too: my longest stint during winter testing was 12 laps; in Malaysia, I did 22; and here I completed the race, so this is a step forward.
“Hopefully, we can improve again for Bahrain.’
Despite his penalty Button felt that the team are progressing and but admitted that the outfit need to improve at every race. Speaking following the race the 2009 world champion stated:
‘Today wasn’t too bad – we’re still fighting at the back of the field, which is a shame, but it’s positive to see that we’re progressing.
“My middle stint on the Option tyre wasn’t too bad – I don’t think our pace was too bad at all on the softer tyre – but the Prime was a bit trickier in those closing laps. A lot of that was due to all the blue flags and traffic I encountered – they meant the tyre temperatures dropped off quite a bit through the stint. It wasn’t easy.
“Regarding the collision with Pastor, I thought there was room on the inside – a collision is something you never want to see happen. It was just a misjudgment, I guess.
“Still, we go to Bahrain hoping for more progress, although the circuit configuration doesn’t suit us, so heading to Europe will hopefully work out a little bit better for the team.
“We need to improve at every race because we’re quite a way back.’
McLaren Honda have yet to score a point in their new partnership as they continue to establish their partnership. Speaking following the race, McLaren Racing Director Eric Boullier stated:
‘First, it’s a real positive for the entire team that we managed to get two cars to the finish with no issues whatsoever during the race. I think that’s a great reward for Honda, and we should congratulate them – today’s double-finish is the result of an enormous amount of hard work, much of which goes unappreciated, so I want to personally thank everybody working in Woking, Sakura and Milton Keynes for their efforts. It’s great that we’re starting to make solid progress.
“Second, our race pace showed further improvement: Jenson drove strongly in the middle stint, and Fernando was reasonably quick relative to the others in the final stint.
“Fighting towards the back of the pack still isn't where we want to be. We know we’re not in a position to fight for points yet – but, little by little, we’re getting there. And we must keep pushing to ensure there are improvements coming for every race.”
Honda R&D senior managing officer – chief officer of motorsport Yasuhisa Arai commented on the Chinese Grand Prix performance saying:
‘After today’s result, it finally feels like we’ve left this long period of winter testing behind us, and started the season proper.
“To get both cars to the finish of the race is one more item off our list, and we’ll now continue to push forward race by race to achieve the targets that we’ve set for ourselves.
“It may appear that we’ve only achieved a minor objective, and we know there’s a lot of work ahead, but the whole team deserves credit and thanks for all of their hard work.”
© Ben Johnston 2015