"Hopefully we’ll be knocking on the door of Q3 tomorrow"
Sochi Autodrom, Friday 29 April
After a busy day of test and development work, Jenson and Fernando finished Friday practice for the Russian Grand Prix in eighth and 10th positions respectively.
The morning was spent undertaking a number of aero correlation runs, with the afternoon spent honing set-up and conducting longer runs to understand tyre behaviour across the course of a stint.
FERNANDO ALONSO, MP4-31-02
|FP1||12th||1m40.771s (+2.644s)||18 laps|
|FP2||10th||1m39.400s (+1.817s)||30 laps|
“Getting at least one car into Q3 tomorrow would be good news for us. I think that’s possible. I know in the past that our results on a Friday make us perhaps a little over-optimistic about our chances for Saturday, but the car felt good today. We’re not 100 per cent there yet – there’s still a little bit more to come from McLaren. Let’s see if that’s enough to get us into the top 10 in qualifying.
The car was a little unbalanced in certain corners, and we maximise the power, and make the tyre work – at the right temperature, then we can improve on 12th position.
“I hope tomorrow we can maximise our potential.”
JENSON BUTTON, MP4-31-03
|FP1||11th||1m40.663s (+2.536s)||19 laps|
|FP2||8th||1m39.196s (+1.613s)||31 laps|
“It’s been a positive day, overall. We’ve been quick on Fridays before, and we know that we face the prospect of having to save some fuel in the race, but hopefully we’ll be able to knock on the door of Q3 tomorrow and be capable of scoring some points on Sunday.
“If we can qualify inside the top 10 tomorrow, we’ll be somewhat limited on tyre choice, but it’ll be possible to race well from there; you’re with the quicker cars, able to run in the DRS and can let them pull you along.
“This circuit tends to be quite easy on tyres – we’re able to do a lot of laps on them. I think people are still thinking about one or two stops in the race – most probably one. I think it’ll be an interesting weekend.”
ERIC BOULLIER - Racing director, McLaren-Honda
“The Sochi track is deceptively challenging – and today’s sessions underlined the fact that finding a perfect balance around here is tricky.
“In the morning, we undertook a significant amount of aero and set-up development work. That made it difficult to get an accurate read on the balance, both drivers complaining that the car felt unpredictable and difficult to drive with confidence. Fortunately, we made a good deal of progress over the lunchbreak, with the result that Jenson and Fernando reported that the car felt much better in this afternoon’s session.
“It’s encouraging that we managed to get both cars into the top 10 this afternoon. While qualifying inside the top 10 brings additional strategic challenges on race day, it’s our aim to get both cars into Q3 tomorrow. Such a result will certainly prove motivational for the entire team, and a good indicator of the solid progress we continue to make.”
YUSUKE HASEGAWA - Honda R&D head of F1 project & executive chief engineer
“As both drivers have carried over their power units from the Chinese Grand Prix, Honda’s key focus during today’s free practice sessions was to provide stable running, which in turn enabled the team to concentrate on Sunday’s race set-up.
“It’s too early to tell how representative Jenson’s and Fernando’s practice results are, because all of the teams ran different fuel-loads and settings, but overall our longer stints on the soft tyres have been solid and with decent pace.
“We know that fuel economy will be tough here, so our main focus now is to manage this in the best way possible for Sunday’s race.”