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2016 F1

McLaren to debut full spec MP4-31 at Australian GP – Boulier

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McLaren to debut full spec MP4-31 at Australian GP – Boulier

McLaren to debut full spec MP4-31 at Australian GP – Boulier

McLaren-Honda F1 racing team director Eric Boullier says that the team’s full spec 2016 F1 car will not hit the track until the Australian Grand Prix.

After a complicated 2015 season, McLaren has pleased with plenty of productive pre-season this year as engine provider Honda has delivered a step forward with its power unit in terms of both performance and reliability.

McLaren’s run plan today concentrated on the configuration and evaluation of a number of new aerodynamic parts on the MP4-31. In addition, attention turned to race set-up ahead of the first race in Melbourne, which involved launch practices, start procedures, and characterisation of tyres, including the new Ultrasoft compound.

The MP4-31 enjoyed another full day of running with no reliability issues, which enabled the team to conduct a thorough final day of testing and evaluations and complete the day’s scheduled run plan. Today, Button did 121 laps, bringing the total tally over the two pre-season tests to 710, covering 3,305km (2,053 miles).

While the package is not currently in its final specification for the Australian Grand Prix, the data gathered over the past two weeks has provided the team with invaluable information to take back to Woking, Sakura and Tokyo, in order to continue the development of both the chassis and power unit and complete final preparations.

ERIC BOULIER, McLaren-Honda racing director

“We haven’t run the full 2016 specification yet during the tests, so it means we’ll go to Australia with more new parts on the car. But we’ve been able to do good mileage on most of the days, which is very good news, and in terms of the chassis it was important that we could go through all of the systems checks – something we couldn’t do last year – so it’s a good achievement. We seem to have a pretty reliable car now to start the season, so we are definitely more confident in that sense, too. The base package looks okay, but there should be more performance coming in the next few weeks.

“We’ve had a very ambitious manufacturing and production programme over the winter, and we are constantly working on new developments back at the factory. We have to strike a balance between that and giving the maximum time to the aerodynamicists to develop the package, which compresses the lead time on production, but this is a normal situation in our industry and we are fortunate to have the resources to constantly push our development and manufacturing. In the past, you’d put together a big package of updates for Melbourne, another one for Barcelona, but now it’s every race, and we are well-versed in bringing regular updates every race weekend, so from Melbourne onwards this will be no different.

“Overall, we’ve ticked a lot of boxes on our test programme checklist, so from that point of view I’m satisfied with the work we’ve completed. Of course, it never feels enough – we could test all day every day and still want to do more – but we’ve definitely made a good start. We will see when we turn up in Melbourne with our full specification where we are; the other teams have clearly made big gains, too. So far we have been correlating well with our factory which gives us reasonable confidence, and we’ve covered a decent amount of mileage, so we feel more comfortable and prepared thanks to the amount of data we have. Time will tell – it’s too early to set expectations, and from here our hard work will continue right the way through to Melbourne and beyond.”

JENSON BUTTON

“It’s positive to finish our testing programme on a good note, with 121 laps. It’s meant we’ve been able to look at a number of different aerodynamic configurations, and learn a lot about the car and how it behaves, which is really useful given that there’s only 10 days until we fly to Melbourne.

“It’s great that we’ve been able to complete a lot of mileage over the two tests, which has been really useful to get feedback on the power unit, the aerodynamics and a bit of the set-up work done as well. It’s also allowed us to do a lot more system checks and integration – which gives us a definite advantage in terms of preparation compared to last year.

“We still have a lot of work to do, and the windy conditions have made it quite difficult to really work on the set-up of the car, but it’s something we’ve all had to deal with. This afternoon, as we got more laps under our belt, we started to get to grips with the balance and handling, and evaluate different options for the first race. I still don’t feel like we’re ready – there are still a lot of changes that will be made on the car before it’s in full race trim – and you always seem to need more testing than you have, to find the balance you want for the first race, but we have the experience to do that when we get to Melbourne.

“There are still quite a few areas that we need to work on, but overall during the tests we have made improvements in many areas, and we need to keep focussed and bring new parts to every race to keep pushing our development.”

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