Get prepared for the season opener with your key quotes from Fernando Alonso, Stoffel Vandoorne and Racing Director, Eric Boullier.
The first race week of 2018 is finally here, and boy are we excited. The journey to the Southern Hemisphere began last week as the team packed their LAT_56 bags and made their way to the airport.
The garages are built, more people are arriving (including our brilliant McLaren+ fans) and before long, both team and cars will be ready for the first Free Practice session of the year.
|When||23 - 25 March 2018|
|Start time||16:10 local, 06:10 BST, 07:10 CET|
|How many laps||58|
|Tyre choice||Yellow Soft, red Supersoft, purple Ultrasoft|
|Tea or coffee||Coffee – this one’s an early start for our European fans|
Fernando Alonso, McLaren Driver
“Finally, time to go racing! This isn’t my first time racing this year of course – I’ve already done a 24-hour race in Daytona and have a very busy season ahead of me – but I’m really excited about getting behind the wheel of the MCL33 for the first grand prix of the year.
“Our car showed a lot of potential in winter testing and, although we know we still have a lot to work on, we’ve already learned a lot about the package and how all the new elements to this year’s car work together. Australia is its first real test, and we need to work hard all weekend to bring all the ingredients together.
“Nobody can ever predict how other teams will perform at the first race of the season and that all contributes to the excitement. Melbourne is a great track and, after what feels like a long winter, I’m really looking forward to seeing what we can do.”
Stoffel Vandoorne, McLaren Driver
“Melbourne is a really cool season opener. The first race coincides with my birthday, and I’ve got great memories from last year as it was my first grand prix for the team as race driver. Now that I’ve got my first full season under my belt, I’m heading to Australia feeling confident, relaxed and refreshed, and I can’t wait to go racing again.
“I’ve been working hard all winter on my training and spending a lot of time with the engineers back at the factory to prepare for this year. Although the regulations have stayed relatively stable, there’s still a lot to learn and our package in particular is very different from last year. It’ll also be interesting to see both the drivers’ and fans’ reactions to the very first grand prix with the Halo.
“I’m really excited – it’s the start of a new challenge for all of us. I’m keen to maximise all the track time we have on Friday to work on set-up to suit the circuit conditions and prep for the weekend ahead. We won’t be getting carried away as we don’t yet know for sure where we stand compared to the other teams, but now the winter is over we all can’t wait to get started with F1 2018.”
Eric Boullier, Racing Director
“A new season, and a new chapter for McLaren in 2018. With the many developments within our team over the past six months or so, it brings me great excitement and pride to see everything coming together and the new McLaren Renault MCL33 hitting the track in Melbourne.
“We didn’t have the reliability we had hoped for in winter testing, but all the issues we faced have since been addressed back at the factory. There’s a huge amount of work going on behind the scenes to ensure we leave no stone unturned in our quest to extract the maximum pace we can from our new package from the first race.
“Melbourne is a venue that the whole team loves going back to, to kick off the new season. It’s a vibrant city, the fans are incredibly enthusiastic and there’s that palpable ‘back-to-school’ feeling of anticipation, where nobody really knows the form book until the lights go out on Sunday. We’re not expecting miracles to be worked overnight – far from it – but what we do know is that we’ll give it our all this weekend.”