Yas Marina Circuit, Friday 24 November
While the late morning desert heat subsided as the day progressed, track conditions mirrored the setting of the sun as temperatures dropped as much as nine degrees between sessions.
Both McLaren Honda drivers completed two very busy practice sessions, which will prove invaluable as the team opted to maximise the morning’s hotter track conditions to complete useful tests, correlation and validation in preparation for next season.
Both sessions ran smoothly as Fernando and Stoffel worked hard to fine-tune the balance and handling of their cars, working on set-up and various setting configurations both for this race weekend and beyond. While the drivers reported positive progress with each run, both recognise that within a very close midfield there is still work to be done overnight in order to maximise the team’s preparation ahead of tomorrow’s important qualifying session.
FERNANDO ALONSO, McLaren Honda driver, MCL32-05
|FP1||1m40.522s (+1.516s)||20 laps||7th|
|FP2||1m39.559s (+1.682s)||28 laps||10th|
“We had a productive day today. No matter how many points we might take on Sunday, the Constructors’ Championship positions seem to already be decided, so for the last couple of races our main priority on Fridays has been testing new items.
“We had a lot on our plate today, but everything went smoothly and the team did an amazing job to fit everything into the programme.
“For tomorrow, making it into Q3 and scoring points on Sunday remain the target, but it’s going to be challenging. We saw today that we’re in a very tight group in the middle of the pack with two Williams, two Renaults and two Force Indias.”
STOFFEL VANDOORNE, McLaren Honda driver, MCL32-04
|FP1||1m40.569s (+1.563s)||15 laps||8th|
|FP2||1m39.671s (+1.794s)||31 laps||12th|
“A pretty good day for us. Obviously FP1 is not the most important session here as it takes place in very hot conditions, so the focus is always more on FP2 because we see the same conditions and temperatures that we will face in qualifying and the race.
“It’s been quite a productive day. We felt quite comfortable in the car and as usual it looks very close in the midfield – we’re in a very tight battle with Force India, Renault and Williams.
“We tried a lot of stuff today and if we can put everything together tomorrow and pull out some good, clean laps, hopefully we should be in a reasonably strong position.”
ERIC BOULLIER, McLaren Honda Racing Director
“Today was a solid day of testing for us and I applaud the hard work of the whole team to pull everything together. We managed to condense a huge amount of work into today’s two sessions, and both were very valuable not only in aiding our preparation for this race, but also informing our end-of-season development work as we look ahead to next year.
“Both drivers worked hard to refine the balance of the car while the conditions changed significantly over the course of the day. While neither is particularly confident that they’ve found the ‘sweet-spot’ around the Yas Marina circuit yet, we’ve gathered a lot of valuable data which will be processed overnight as we head into qualifying day.
“On-track sessions at this grand prix are always a unique challenge as the more representative running ahead of the race is done in the early-evening twilight. Therefore, we’ve elected to maximise the earlier sessions each day by performing a useful general test programme, albeit juggling this with all-important race preparation, which is a tricky balance to strike.
“Today both cars completed full run plans and we’re pleased to report no major issues. Fernando and Stoffel will work with their engineers to get a handle on the data gathered and make the decisions required to see us through to qualifying. I don’t think we’ve seen the maximum potential of our package yet, but today in Abu Dhabi was certainly a good start.”
YUSUKE HASEGAWA, Head of F1 Project & Executive Chief Engineer
“So, the last race of the 2017 season has begun.
“Today was a relatively good day for the team as we were able to complete our programme in accordance with the practice schedule. Both drivers showed a consistent performance and they were satisfied with the set-up.
“Because of the high temperatures in Abu Dhabi, especially during the daytime, it is not easy conditions for the PU, but we were able to have a trouble-free day thanks to our team paying extra attention to the parameters.
“Everyone is fully focused on this race and motivated to finish the season on a high, and I think there is a possibility that we will have both cars into Q3 in tomorrow's qualifying.”