Albert Park Circuit, Friday March 24
McLaren-Honda kicked off the 2017 FIA Formula 1 World Championship with a productive and relatively trouble-free first day’s practice for the Australian Grand Prix.
The team spent the first session focusing on capturing aero data, fitting large aero rakes to Stoffel Vandoorne’s car for the opening run. For FP2, the engineers worked on set-up balance before switching to tyre evaluation work over a long run.
Fernando Alonso finished the second session in 12th position, with team-mate Stoffel in 17th.
FERNANDO ALONSO McLaren-Honda Driver, MCL32-03
|FP1||1m27.116s (+2.896s)||18 laps||14th|
|FP2||1m26.000s (+2.380s)||19 laps||12th|
“Relative to winter testing, we had fewer issues today than we had in Barcelona.
“We could run a little bit more, so we were able to extract more potential from the car – that’s positive. Still, there’s definitely more to come, and we still need to keep working because we’re quite far away from the front-runners in terms of lap time.
“Every time we were on track today, though, we learned something. We were also able to test some new components, and they seem to be working fine, which is positive. There’s still a lot more to come from us, and we need to maximise our potential.”
STOFFEL VANDOORNE McLaren-Honda Driver, MCL32-01
|FP1||1m28.695s (+4.475s)||14 laps||20th|
|FP2||1m26.608s (+2.988s)||33 laps||17th|
“The feeling with the car was OK today.
"Obviously, I missed a little bit of running in FP1, but I think we had a very good FP2, catching up on mileage. Getting laps was my main focus today – I wanted to get some times on the board, do some longer runs, and get a better understanding about the package we have.
“It’s very difficult to predict where we’ll qualify tomorrow: I’m not really looking at the lap times at the moment; it’s more about the feeling, for me. I’m still finding time in the car on every lap, feeling more comfortable, and I’m happy that the set-up changes are going in the right direction.
“I made a big improvement from FP1 to FP2, so hopefully tomorrow will be another step forward.”
ERIC BOULLIER, McLaren-Honda Racing Director
“After the difficulties of winter testing, it was satisfying to conclude today’s free practice sessions with minimal disruption. In fact, we got plenty of laps under our belts and were able to complete the run programme on both cars today. So that was a steady step forward.
“Today was really about evaluating and measuring the effectiveness of a number of new parts, which we achieved in the first session. For FP2, we started to make more meaningful adjustments to the cars’ set-up, and concluded the day with some long runs.
“It’s still too early to get an accurate read on where we stand, but, all things considered, this was a pleasing first day.”
YUSUKE HASEGAWA, Honda R&D Co. Ltd Head of F1 Project & Executive Chief Engineer
“It’s good to finally be back out on track at a race weekend, and kick off the season. It’s been a tough week of preparations to put in place counter measures for the issues we had during winter testing.
“Today we were able to show certain advances from Barcelona regarding reliability, completing FP1 and FP2 without any major issues.
“For tomorrow’s qualifying, we still have some more room for improvement with mapping for better driveability, and of course, we are not satisfied with our current position. We will work hard during FP3 together with McLaren to find the best set-up.”