Friday, 10 April 2015

McLaren won't get carried away despite encouraging opening day in China

(McLaren Honda)

McLaren Honda’s Jenson Button is not getting carried away by the prospect of the team making it into Q2 or Q3 at the Shanghai International Circuit on Saturday, despite the Woking based outfit’s strong performance in practice on Friday.

Button ended the day in 10th place while team mate Fernando Alonso finished the day in 12th place. Button set a fastest time in Free Practice 2 of 1m 39.275s to end the day just 2.056s behind former McLaren team mate Lewis Hamilton who topped the time sheets. 

The 2009 world champion completed a total of 48 laps over the course of FP1 and FP2. Speaking afterwards Button stated:

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 completed a total of 47 laps over the course of the opening day of on track action at the Shanghai International Circuit. The Spaniard set a fastest time of 1m 39.743s ending the day 2.524s behind Hamilton. Speaking following the on track action, Alonso stated:

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.
McLaren Racing Director Eric Boullier commented on Friday’s track activity saying:

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.”
Honda R&D senior managing officer – chief officer of motorsport Yasuhisa Arai commented on Friday’s action saying:

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.

© Ben Johnston 2015

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