"We’ll see the truth on Saturday"
Circuit de Monaco, Thursday May 26
The first day of practice around the fabled Monte-Carlo street circuit was somewhat inconclusive after a pair of stop-start sessions that were punctuated by incident.
In the morning session, neither Jenson nor Fernando felt comfortable with their cars’ balance; an issue that the engineers went some way towards rectifying in the afternoon’s grippier session.
The most alarming moment for the team came at the end of FP1, when a dislodged drain cover smashed heavily into Jenson’s car, destroying the front wing, floor and much of the right-front corner. Luckily, Jenson escaped injury, and his mechanics were able to rebuild the car ahead of the afternoon session.
We will evaluate the data from today’s running in order to improve our fortunes in Saturday’s ultra-important qualifying session..
FERNANDO ALONSO, MP4-31-04
|FP1||13th||1m17.920s (+2.383s)||27 laps|
|FP2||12th||1m16.723s (+2.116s)||43 laps|
“We know this is a good opportunity for us in terms of circuit layout, so we perhaps expected to be a little more competitive in today’s sessions. On the other hand, we need to stay calm – it’s still only Thursday and there’s a lot of potential in the car to be found by Saturday.
“The balance was not right today: I had quite a bit of understeer so there’s definitely more lap-time to come from us. We’ll see the truth on Saturday, and I’m sure we’ll deliver when it matters."
JENSON BUTTON, MP4-31-03
|FP1||15th||1m27.610s (+3.659s)||26 laps|
|FP2||10th||1m16.325s (+1.718s)||46 laps|
“The morning session was tough – we really struggled for grip – but started getting there in the afternoon.
“The day was made tougher for my side of garage by the drain cover, which came loose and broke through my front wing, front suspension, brake duct and floor. The mechanics did a great job to get the car ready for FP2, but we’ve still got a long way to go until we’re happy with our competitiveness.
“A racetrack is a controlled environment, and we take enough risks as racing drivers. Normally, the safety standards here are very good, but that incident is something we don’t want to see again., It was lucky that the drain cover stayed quite low on the ground.
“There’s still a big gap to the cars at the front, but we’ll do our best in qualifying and I hope we’ll be more competitive.”
ERIC BOULLIER - Racing director, McLaren-Honda
“There’s always a lot of work that needs to be done on the first day of practice at this most storied of racetracks. This morning’s session was somewhat unpredictable, with an unexpectedly low level of grip that look a little while to understand.
“I also think that today’s results are largely inconclusive, as we fitted in a lot of test work in order to better understand the unique characteristics of the demanding circuit. Our focus now switches towards maximizing our performance for qualifying on Saturday – a session which remains the most critical qualifying hour of the entire season.
“Jenson was fortunate to emerge unscathed from an incident in this morning’s session when a drain cover smashed into his car. The organisers work very hard to ensure this circuit is as safe as possible, but we need to look into exactly what happened and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
YUSUKE HASEGAWA - Honda R&D head of F1 project & executive chief engineer
"We were slightly disappointed to find ourselves in the same positions as at previous races, as we believe that the Monaco street circuit suits our car’s performance.
Nevertheless, our biggest issue of understeer in both cars has been improved massively between FP1 and FP2, and the team did a brilliant job in repairing Jenson’s damaged front end to get it ready for FP2.
Owing to the Monaco Grand Prix’s unique running calendar, we have a full day to complete the setup of the cars tomorrow, and we are looking forward to seeing what the engineers will come up with."