Autodromo Nazionale Monza, Friday 1 September
In a session where rain threatened for most of the morning – and eventually appeared at the end – both drivers completed their FP1 programmes with no major problems. The team used the session to execute its scheduled handling and set-up changes, and both cars ran a number of tests in preparation for the weekend ahead. Fernando also did his first run of the day in his MCL32 complete with halo fitted to the cockpit.
Fernando will take a 35-place grid penalty on Sunday for a power unit change, and, like in Spa, the team is electing to maximise our its opportunities on at this power-hungry track by implementing a tow strategy using each car’s slipstream. Stoffel and Fernando practised this in the final stages of FP1, before Fernando ended his running 20 minutes before end of the session to allow his crew enough time to change his engine ahead of FP2.
The team worked hard over lunch to switch Fernando’s engines, and he made it back out onto the track just a few minutes after the start of the second session. Both drivers covered a lot of mileage with minimal stoppages, both completing 31 laps. Fernando had a small glitch early on when he reported a loss of power, but this was quickly rectified through software management. The team once again opted to practise towing with both cars, as well as evaluate set-up configurations for the race. Stoffel ended FP2 in a strong seventh position, with Fernando just two-hundredths behind him in eighth.
FERNANDO ALONSO, McLaren Honda driver, MCL32-05
|FP1||1m24.015s (+2.478s)||17 laps||15th|
|FP2||1m22.968s (+1.562s)||31 laps||8th|
“Today has been a very positive day, with a good feeling in both sessions. We did find some performance here, which was a little bit unexpected because coming to such an unfavourable circuit for us we weren’t hoping much, but we have both cars in the top ten 10 and this is very good.
“We’ve tried some interesting things and there’s been some good learning, and hopefully tomorrow we can put more into qualifying and repeat the result, even though it will be more difficult.
“Stoffel helped me in Spa, when he had penalties, and here I’m starting last due to penalties again, so I will try to help him as much as I can by doing some towing, and hopefully put him in the best position for Sunday.”
STOFFEL VANDOORNE, McLaren Honda driver, MCL32-04
|FP1||1m23.465s (+1.928s)||24 laps||9th|
|FP2||1m22.947s (+1.541s)||31 laps||7th|
“It’s been a bit of a surprising Friday for us as a team. To be inside the top 10 with both cars has been a very positive start to the weekend, especially on a track like Monza where we know the engine deficit plays a very big role. I think it’s been a very positive Friday, but, as we can see, the lap-times are very close behind us, so we need to keep working – to keep fighting for every tenth, hundredth, thousandth we can find – because it’s easy to lose a lot of places here.
“We would be extremely happy if we can carry forward today’s performance into tomorrow, but I think we might go backwards a little bit as the others probably have a bit extra in hand with engine modes. But, we just need to benefit from others’ mistakes, really focus on our own performance, and hopefully we can carry this momentum through to tomorrow.
“The weather forecast doesn’t really worry me. So far today has been dry – I haven’t yet seen the weather forecast for the rest of the weekend – but we’ll see what happens and you never know how it will affect our running.”
ERIC BOULLIER, McLaren Honda Racing Director
“Today’s been encouragingly productive for the team, as we’ve managed to complete important tests and cover our scheduled programmes for the day. The mechanics worked really hard to change Fernando’s engine between sessions, and for that I’d like to thank them for yet another day of hard work at the track, and for the speed at which they managed to complete it.
“Both sides of the garage have had a solid day’s running, and we were able to conduct some useful towing practice ahead of tomorrow’s qualifying session. On a track so notoriously fast and power-hungry as Monza, we have to utilise every tool we have in our armoury tomorrow to give ourselves the best chance on the grid for Sunday. There are other cars that will also be out of position due to penalties, so it’s all to play for.
“Unseasonal rain had been threatening all morning, but this afternoon we enjoyed more typical Italian sunshine, with higher track temperatures and dry running allowing us to gather important data ahead of Sunday’s race. We were able to shift our attention to longer running at the end of FP2 – despite a brief Virtual Safety Car period – and also complete the usual pitstop practice, so overall I’m pleased with what we’ve done today and I hope we can translate that into a positive day tomorrow.”
YUSUKE HASEGAWA, Honda R&D Co. Ltd Head of F1 Project & Chief Engineer
“Despite the unstable weather conditions today, especially this morning, we were able to run through our practice programme as planned.
“We brought an updated PU to Italy this weekend, which Fernando ran in FP1. Although we will receive a penalty for the race on Sunday, it was important for us to introduce this new update as soon as possible, and to test its performance on track. I can confirm that we saw a positive result in the performance as expected.
“Fernando’s PU was switched out before FP2, and he will run the remainder of the weekend with his Belgium race PU. I would like to thank the team for their hard work to get Fernando back out on track so quickly.
“Stoffel also ran through his programme as planned and finished the day seventh quickest overall, which was a very good start to his weekend.
“Although the power-hungry nature of this track means we’ll no doubt have another tough grand prix, we’ll continue to prepare and push for Q3 in qualifying tomorrow.