McLaren: We still have lots of work to do
Today was a stop-start but ultimately productive day of running for McLaren-Honda. Despite losing out on mileage over the course of the test due to reliability issues, the team pushed ahead with its scheduled test programme: this morning with a focus on aeromapping, and this afternoon on handling and set-up changes.
The nature of the run plan dictated short runs punctuated with longer spells of set-up changes. A scheduled ESS pack and floor change meant lunch break would be longer than usual, however, while stripping down the car, the team noticed a small water leak, which was also fixed at the same time.
The team then took the opportunity to undertake a more thorough check of the car, its set-up and its systems, to ensure any running in the afternoon could be as productive as possible, but this meant the car remained in the garage for longer than originally planned.
Fernando re-joined the track at approximately 16:00, and despite only clocking up a total of 46 laps, the team gathered a lot of useful data on car and PU behaviour in preparation for Melbourne.
Fernando Alonso: “Any mileage we can do is good, but as we’re starting to understand the car more, it’s important to try different set-ups. You can do this in 12 runs of 10 laps each, or in 12 runs of 3 laps each – you’ll still finish the day with 40 or 50 laps, but with exactly the same information.
“With the problems we’ve had, the team has very cleverly opted for these short runs, which gives us the same valuable information at the end of each day. I think we’re going in the right direction, but there are obvious areas where we need to improve.
“We’re not fully ready to complete a race distance at the moment, and we’re only two weeks away from the first race. We will improve – we have to improve – and I’m expecting a very strong reaction from the team.
“I feel ready for this new challenge, and I’m driving at my best. The car is good in the corners, it’s a good chassis, and we’re just missing one thing, which is power. We’ll do whatever we need to improve this and be competitive. I remain confident because we’re a big team, we’re going in the right direction, and I think we have the capability to improve the situation.”
Eric Boullier, Racing Director: “On paper, today doesn’t look like it was too successful for us, but in reality we’ve managed to cover a lot of ground. We opted for longer set-up changes and shorter runs between them in order to get the data from each outing and ensure correlation, before making further changes. It meant less track time, but ultimately gave us the information we needed to validate the direction we’re going in with the car, and progress through our preparation work for Melbourne.
“We’d hoped to get back out on track earlier in the afternoon, but a small leak prompted a more thorough investigation, which took longer than anticipated. This is all part of the testing process, and there would’ve been little reward for going out earlier, only to then encounter niggles which may have taken even longer to address in the garage later on.
“There’s definitely a lot of work still to do, and only two days to get it done, but we’re working well through our programme. We hope to have another couple of productive days to finish the test, where we’ll be focusing on extracting more performance from the car and working closely with Honda to push forward with development in time for Australia.”
Yusuke Hasegawa, Honda R&D Co. Ltd Head Of F1 Project & Executive Chief Engineer: “Today we were able to make further steps forward. We have been able to run through our testing programme, and there were no major issues encountered.
“This progress has enabled us to gather the important data required to understand the functionality of our next spec of power unit, which was introduced for today’s testing.
“Of course, we still have lots of work to do, but today’s running has moved us in the right direction. The last two days of winter testing will now be essential to gather further important data, and to continue our race preparations in order to be ready for Melbourne.”