Albert Park, Friday 23 March
In the bright midday sun, and with the track temperatures peaking at around 45 degrees Celsius, Formula 1 2018 officially got underway.
Both Fernando and Stoffel had a cautious start to the first practice session. Fernando’s crew detected a small issue around the exhaust on his car early on, so the team spent time thoroughly checking both his and Stoffel’s cars over a series of install laps before beginning the run plan proper. Once the team was satisfied the issue was resolved, both drivers returned to the track to complete some valuable mileage. By the end of the session, Fernando had done 16 laps, setting the eighth fastest time, and Stoffel 15 laps, in 10th.
The second session was very productive and the team executed its full programme as planned. Both drivers focused on set-up for the weekend ahead and completed their run plans in what was a smooth session on both sides of the garage. They each completed solid mileage – Fernando 28 laps and Stoffel 34, and finished in the same positions on the timesheets as they did in FP1 – eighth and 10th respectively.
FERNANDO ALONSO, McLaren Driver
|FP1||1m25.896s (+1.870s)||16 laps||8th|
|FP2||1m25.200s (+1.269s)||28 laps||8th|
“It’s good to be back in the racing spirit, and it’s a nice feeling to be with all the cars on track after the lonely winter tests where you are the only car per team on track and have empty grandstands.
“Being the first day of the season, there were a lot of things we wanted to test. However, the weather conditions will be changeable from tomorrow, so we need to be careful with the information we have gathered.
“We lost a little bit of time in first practice with some issues but we managed to recover everything in the second session, and now we need to analyse everything to get the best package for tomorrow. The weather is going to affect everyone and we’re used to these changeable conditions here, so hopefully we can maximise every opportunity.”
STOFFEL VANDOORNE, McLaren Driver
|FP1||1m26.482s (+2.456s)||15 laps||10th|
|FP2||1m25.285s (+1.354s)||34 laps||10th|
“Today was a pretty good day. We lost a little bit of track time in the first 45 minutes of FP1 but had a very good run after that and got some good learning from the car, which was the most important thing after winter testing. The issues we had weren’t big problems, and we got on top of everything pretty quickly.
“We had a very productive day, so I’m looking forward to putting all the pieces together with the set-up for tomorrow and seeing where we’re at. I think we’re in reasonable shape and the feeling in the car is positive – it feels like we’ve got something to work with. Everything is running as we want it to, and we just need to keep pushing forward to gain performance.
“The most important thing was to go through our programme and we did that, and I’m excited about the possibility of running in a wet qualifying tomorrow. I think we’re in a very close group with some other teams, and the conditions will make things a bit more difficult for everyone. Hopefully we can benefit from the rain that’s on the radar this weekend and make the most of it.”
ERIC BOULLIER, McLaren Racing Director
“Today has been a productive day of running, and for the first time in more representative conditions. Track temperatures were much higher than they were on any day during testing, which has meant we’ve been able to test certain set-up parameters that we couldn’t in Barcelona.
“Although we had a slightly interrupted start to the day with a couple of initial teething problems with bodywork around the exhaust, these were quickly addressed and both drivers got out on track for some valuable mileage in the second half of the session. This afternoon ran much more smoothly, and we were able to collect a lot of useful data on the behaviour of the car in various scenarios, that will stand us in good stead for the rest of the weekend.
“Both drivers have provided positive feedback about the car and we have some solid information that our engineers are now busy analysing. Now, we look ahead to our first qualifying session of the year. Ironically, the weather conditions look like they'll change again, but we’ll maximise what we already know and keep pushing to make progress through each session. It’s great to be back in Melbourne and we’re all very happy to be racing again.”