2015 Chinese Grand Prix – Free Practice Report
"There's been progress today - hashtag progress!"
Shanghai International Circuit, Friday April 10
McLaren-Honda enjoyed a positive first day of practice in Shanghai – both cars regularly ran inside the top 10 in both sessions, eventually finishing 10th (Jenson Button) and 12th (Fernando Alonso) at the end of this afternoon’s session.
The MP4-30 appears to behave fairly well around the fast sweeps of the Shanghai International Circuit, although it is still too tricky to get an accurate read on performance as various cars were running on different fuel loads, and a mid-session yellow-flag period (to retrieve Felipe Massa’s car) meant that some drivers were compromised while attempting to set lap-times on fresh Option rubber.
Nonetheless, the team has gathered some positive momentum, which it will take into tomorrow’s practice and qualifying sessions.
JENSON BUTTON, MP4-30-01
|FP1||1m41.845s (+2.812s)||19 laps||13th|
|FP2||1m39.275s (+2.056s)||29 laps||10th|
“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’s 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 room for improvement, but I’m nevertheless looking forward to the rest of the weekend.
“There’s been progress today – hashtag progress!”
FERNANDO ALONSO, MP4-30-03
|FP1||1m42.161s (+3.128s)||20 laps||17th|
|FP2||1m39.743s (+2.524s)||27 laps||12th|
“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.”
ERIC BOULLIER - Racing director, McLaren-Honda
“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.”
YASUHISA ARAI - Honda R&D senior managing officer – chief officer of motorsport
“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.”