In terms of car development, it was a fairly routine first day of practice at the Hockenheimring today. Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso, celebrating his 35th birthday today, undertook some aero work during FP1, and worked hard to dial-in the balance of their MP4-31s.
In the afternoon, Jenson was forced to abandon FP2 early after getting something in his left eye while in the middle of a run. He went to a local hospital for a precautionary check-up, where a foreign body was removed.
FERNANDO ALONSO, MP4-31-02
“It was a nice way to celebrate my birthday here with the team – we spend 200 days a year alongside each other, so that was a fantastic feeling.
“I now need to focus on the weekend and help improve our pace a little. We felt competitive straight away in the first session – more than in the second, where we lost some performance. But we might need to go back on some set-up changes and find a way to improve the car for tomorrow.
“For this weekend, we need to be realistic: there are three teams that are a little bit quicker than everyone else, then, behind them, there’s a close fight. If we want to beat our direct competitors, we need to get everything right – but that’s likely to prove a little more difficult than it did in Hungary.
“Still, I’d hope and expect that we can score points on Sunday.”
JENSON BUTTON, MP4-31-03
“I was driving down the pit straight when I got something in my eye. It wasn’t stuck in my eye, but it was a foreign body, which the hospital washed out and removed. It scratched my eye, so I’ve been given some eyedrops – but all is good. I don’t know what it was – maybe a piece of carbon dust, which has happened to me before.
“The session was okay – the car didn’t feel too bad at all – but I had to stop early because of the problem. The aim for the remainder of the weekend is to be up there behind the top three teams.
ERIC BOULLIER – Racing director, McLaren-Honda
“It’s not been the smoothest of days for us today. Neither Jenson nor Fernando really found the perfect balance, and there were a handful of minor issues that affected progress on both sides of the garage.
“Nevertheless, we think we’ve found a pretty good baseline to carry forward for the remainder of the weekend, and we’ll be digging through the data this evening to ensure that we hit the ground running tomorrow morning.
“Obviously, it was the right decision that Jenson went for a check-up on his eye. He complained of an irritation in his left eye during one of his FP2 runs, and chose to visit the circuit medical centre for a check-up. He was then transferred to a local hospital for a more detailed analysis, and it’s there that the doctors removed a small foreign body from his eye.”
YUSUKE HASEGAWA – Honda R&D head of F1 project & executive chief engineer
“Today’s free practice sessions ran smoothly for the most part. Jenson had a minor eye irritation during FP2, but thankfully after a precautionary hospital check a foreign body was removed.
“Our testing programme today focused on both the power unit and chassis set-ups to suit the nature of this power-orientated track. It is Honda’s first outing at the Hockenheimring so our engineers were busy in both sessions to fine-tune the power unit’s characteristics, but thanks to some trouble-free running, we were able to accumulate and refine a good amount of data.
“As usual, Fridays are busy for the team to ready the car for tomorrow’s qualifying, and we look forward to what the engineers will bring to the table.”