Tuesday, 7 April 2015

McLaren expecting tough weekend in China despite making major step from testing to first race of the season

(McLaren Honda)

McLaren Honda’s Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso say that don’t expect the Woking based outfit to make further progress at this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit following a tough race weekend last time out.

At the Sepang circuit neither Fernando Alonso nor Jenson Button made it out of Q2 and started the race from 17th and 18th place respectively. The pair failed to finish the Grand Prix despite the fact that they were competing with the Sahara Force India Formula One Team along with Scuderia Toro Rosso.

McLaren have struggled so far this season in terms of their Honda power unit and 2010 Chinese Grand Prix winner Jenson Button believes that kilometre long back straight at the Shanghai International Circuit which could prove to be problematic to the team as the emphasis at the circuit in on the power output of the power unit as will the long main straight.

Alonso echoed Button’s sentiment by saying that believes the team will struggle with their current package at the Chinese Grand Prix due to the fact that it will be a lot cooler in Shanghai than it was in Malaysia two weeks ago.

Pirelli have confirmed that they will bring the Medium and the Soft compound tyre for this weekend’s race and Alonso believes that McLaren could struggle generate heat into their tyres due to the expected cooler conditions this weekend compared to those that were experienced by the teams in Malaysia.

McLaren Racing Director Eric Boullier believes that despite their double retirement in Malaysia that the team have made major progress with the MP4-30 since winter testing in February.

The Frenchman confirmed that right now the team are not working on performance but instead they are looking at the relative performance of the package since the Barcelona test and the opening race of the season in Australia.

Boullier believes that although the situation is improving, the one area that really need attention is reliability as both Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso suffered engine failures at the Malaysian Grand Prix. McLaren CEO Ron Dennis had targeted the Chinese Grand Prix for a performance gain but this is more likely to occur at the Spanish Grand Prix at the Barcelona Circuit de Catalunya next month which is traditionally the race where team’s bring their first major upgrades of the season to their cars.

© Ben Johnston 2015

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