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Eric Boullier

McLaren: Practice ended up feeling positive about our progress

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McLaren: Practice ended up feeling positive about our progress

McLaren: Practice ended up feeling positive about our progress

A busy day spent fitting and evaluating new components while also tuning MP4-31 into the demands of this demanding Catalan circuit. Jenson worked hard to overcome a sensitive rear-end handling imbalance, which he eventually dialed out at the end of afternoon; Fernando had fewer issues, but required a plank change after running onto some Astroturf at the beginning of FP2.

FERNANDO ALONSO, MP4-31-04

“The feeling with the car today has been pretty good. We need to improve a few things for tomorrow – especially with the grip at the rear. I’m not totally comfortable with the car yet, so we’ll try a few more things.

“This evening, we’ll go through the data from Jenson and myself and pull together a better solution for tomorrow.

“Looking ahead to qualifying, I think we’re in the same situation as we were in Russia: the practice times suggest that we can get into the top 10, but you tend to need an extra push to get into Q3, and we don’t have that step quite yet.

“Still, power unit performance is not as critical here as it was in Russia, so maybe we’ll be able to crack it. Let’s see…”

JENSON BUTTON, MP4-31-03

“I had a pretty average day: FP1 was tough, then we couldn’t get the car out of the garage for the opening part of FP2.

“Eventually, however, I got some running under my belt – and our long-run pace didn’t look too bad. The balance came together when we ran the Soft tyre at the end of the day, which was encouraging because I had a big issue with the rear-end feeling like it was ‘floating’. We’re getting there.

“We have upgrades arriving for each race, which is fantastic – but we have to spend a lot of time on Fridays working out whether they work or not. Today was a busy day, but we’ll really be able to focus on performance and qualifying tomorrow.

“This won’t be the easiest race at which to score points, but we’ll do our best.”

ERIC BOULLIER – Racing director, McLaren-Honda

“Given the amount of testing we’ve already done at this circuit, people often assume that it’s simply a case of turning up and running here at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. In reality, that’s often far from the case: the temperatures in which we test during the winter months, and the amount of chassis and power unit development undertaken between February and May, means that it often can be difficult to find an ideal balance around here.

“We struggled a little bit to find the cars’ sweet-spot today, but ended up feeling positive about our progress. In addition, we’ve introduce a fairly comprehensive upgrade package at this race, and we need to go away and measure its effectiveness in order to understand which elements of that suite of parts we take forward into the remainder of the weekend.

“I must also pay tribute to the hard work of our mechanics – both last night and today. They had plenty on their plate in terms of fixing repairs, fitting upgrades and managing the cars throughout both sessions, but they did a brilliant job.

“There’s a lot of work left to do, but we’ve already made plenty of progress.”

YUSUKE HASEGAWA – Honda R&D head of F1 project & executive chief engineer

Today’s FP1 and FP2 running was focused on understanding the new chassis components that were brought to Spain. I believe that both the drivers and the team understood the characteristics of the new parts as they accumulated laps, but we know that there is more work to be done tomorrow. Therefore, it was encouraging to see that the result today placed us solidly us in mid-field, amidst the uncertainty.

Both power units have been carried over from Sochi, so we will gather and analyse today’s running data, whilst supporting the team with more running and setup of the car tomorrow. I think it will be a busy night, but I am looking forward to what our engineers can do for tomorrow’s qualifying.

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