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McLaren happy with valuable and trouble-free Bahrain test day

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PROGRAMME – Today was a much more productive day of running on the final day of the in-season test at the Bahrain International Circuit.

Stoffel was once again back behind the wheel, and as soon as the green light signalled the pit lane was open at 09:00, the team was able to start its programme and run comprehensively throughout the day. Stoffel managed 56 laps before a natural pause in proceedings around lunchtime, when the team took the opportunity to make lengthy scheduled set-up changes to the car, before returning to the track at around 16:00.

The team spent much of the day testing a combination of set-up and handling configurations of the chassis, aero data correlation, and power unit driveability and reliability work.

The team concluded a valuable and trouble-free day of running as the session ended at 18:00, with Stoffel having completed 81 laps.

STOFFEL VANDOORNE, McLaren-Honda Driver

“Today has probably been our best day this season so far. It’s the first time that we’ve had a day without any big problems, where we could actually get on with our programme. I think we completed everything we wanted to do today, and we went through a lot of set-up stuff that we didn’t manage to do in Barcelona.

“It’s been a very productive day and I’m very happy that we’ve been able to do so many laps. Especially after a difficult day yesterday and a difficult weekend, it wasn’t looking great, but I’m very pleased. For the team, it’s not been an easy week, after a double-header and then coming to the test with so many issues. They’ve been working flat-out, and they’ve done a very good job to get the car back out on track every time.

“Today was really good, but we need every day to be this good, and there are no guarantees that it will be like this next time. We need to learn very carefully from what we’ve done today, and hopefully carry that forward to the next event and see some improvements. It’s been very good for both me and the team to be able to try a number of different directions with the set-up. There were some new bits on the car – quite fundamental things – that we wanted to try out, and learn about, so it’s been really useful to see where the performance comes from, and very productive.

“Today and all weekend I’ve actually felt very comfortable in the car. The chassis is behaving well, and we’ll bring some more new bits to the car over the next few races. The key is to be able to have a weekend where everything runs smoothly, which we haven’t been able to do yet. If we can do that, hopefully we can show we are making progress. We just need to keep working hard and wait for the moment when everything falls together.”

ERIC BOULLIER, McLaren-Honda Racing Director

“Everything has worked perfectly today in terms of reliability, and we were even able to push a little bit in terms of settings. We’ve managed a ‘proper’ test today, and really made the most of every opportunity out on track. Everything we’ve planned, we’ve tested, and we’ve done back-to-back runs, so I’m really happy with the work we’ve completed today.

“It’s complicated to understand the issues we’ve had over the past few days, since today we’ve managed to run without any problems, but Honda are working hard to understand where the weaknesses lie. We’ve been able to run with a more aggressive set-up today, gathered a lot of information and tested a lot of solutions, so in terms of both data and results it’s, been a very positive day of testing.

“It’s certainly been a trying couple of weeks for everyone at McLaren-Honda, and I can’t thank the team enough for the long hours, hard work and incredible effort they’ve put in after a long period away from home. Oliver and Stoffel, too, have both done a sterling job, and, for Stoffel in particular, the mileage we’ve been able to cover today after difficult back-to-back race weekends for him has been priceless.

“Being able to do a good amount of running on the final day has come at the right time. Now, we’ll head back to the factory with even more motivation to keep pushing forward. It’s a quick turnaround to crunch the numbers and prepare ourselves for Sochi, which for sure will be another tough weekend for us, but, as always, we’re ready for the challenge.”

SATOSHI NAKAMURA, Honda R&D Co. Ltd Principal Engineer

“Despite having a disappointing first day of testing yesterday, today we were able to conduct our plan in accordance with the original schedule and completed 81 laps of useful running.

“After facing MGUH issues during the Bahrain Grand Prix, we made concerted efforts to analyse the issue in a short period of time ahead of this test.

“Based on this analysis, we implemented provisional countermeasures against the issue on our PU and we think we were able to confirm the direction of our solution with today’s running. We also made some progress today with the set-up of our PU in order to acquire better driveability and reduce the vibration.

“I want to thank all the members of the McLaren-Honda team who worked tirelessly throughout the days and nights to prepare for the test, even after the tough grand prix we had here in Bahrain.

“Although we are still in behind our competitors in terms of performance, we are confident that we’re heading in the right direction. We believe our PU still has more potential and we will continue our development utilising all of the information we have gathered from this test in order to close the gap to our competitors as soon as possible.

“We have less than 10 days to go before the Russian Grand Prix, and we are expecting another tough race there. However, we will keep fighting hard together with McLaren in order to move forward.”

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