Red Bull Ring, Friday 07 July
A productive first day in Austria for McLaren Honda, as the drivers got to grips with Honda’s upgraded Spec Three power unit and dialed the MCL32 in to the sweeping turns of the Spielberg track.
Neither driver really ended the day with a satisfactory car balance, and Fernando even indulged in a couple of off-track moments and a biffed floor panel en route to setting the eighth-fastest time of the afternoon.
Stoffel enjoyed one of his best Friday showings of the season, ending FP2 just 0.127s behind Fernando. Given the short length of the track, lap-times look set to be very close this weekend – in FP2 this afternoon, positions seven to 17 were covered by less than one second, so we expect a hard fight in qualifying tomorrow afternoon.
FERNANDO ALONSO, McLaren Honda driver, MCL32-03
|FP1||1m07.510s (+1.535s)||28 laps||9th|
|FP2||1m06.732s (+1.249s)||27 laps||8th|
“Everyone was looking for the limit today, so we saw many offs – but tomorrow everyone will calm down.
“Our day was not too bad. We eventually completed our programme, despite missing a little bit of track time in both sessions – this afternoon, I hit a kerb and slightly damaged the floor, so we had to change it.
“However, we were able to collect some valuable information, which we’ll now go through in detail, looking at everything we tested and what we can do with it for tomorrow.
“There are seven or eight drivers all within a few tenths of each other – tomorrow, we’ll find out if we’re in the upper or lower part of this group.
“Finally, the weather looks unstable for both Saturday and Sunday. Unless you’re fighting for the championship, some unexpected rain is always welcome. That can go either way for you, but when you have little to lose it usually works fine…”
STOFFEL VANDOORNE, McLaren Honda driver, MCL32-02
|FP1||1m07.283s (+1.308s)||31 laps||7th|
|FP2||1m06.859s (+1.376s)||37 laps||12th|
“I think it’s been a reasonably good Friday for us as a team. We’re competing in a very, very close midfield – I think one second covered around 10 cars in FP2 this afternoon – so it will all come down to details tomorrow if we’re to have a good result in qualifying.
“It’s such a short track that a couple of hundredths’ difference can make a big difference in terms of grid position. We’ll focus on putting everything together and fine-tune the set-up so we can hopefully carry every ounce of performance through to tomorrow.”
ERIC BOULLIER, McLaren Honda Racing Director
“It’s been a pretty productive first day here in Austria. Honda has introduced its Spec Three power unit upgrade for both cars, and it seems like a fairly useful step in performance. Taking the lap-times at face value today, we looked reasonably competitive, despite neither Fernando nor Stoffel really feeling that their MCL32s were dialed in properly.
“There’s still a fair amount of work for us to do this evening if we’re to maximise the set-up ahead of qualifying tomorrow, but I feel encouraged that we’re on the front foot and carrying good momentum after the first day of running.”
YUSUKE HASEGAWA, Honda R&D Co. Ltd Head of F1 Project & Chief Engineer
“After the successful running of our Spec Three PU for the first time in Baku two weeks ago, we came to Austria with one apiece for both Fernando and Stoffel.
“I’m pleased to say that we were able to work through our FP1 and FP2 programmes with no issues. During the sessions, both drivers showed decent performance with constant pace, and once again we were able to see the effectiveness of the update in the data.
“It’s difficult to judge our overall competitiveness from today’s practice sessions only. However, we feel confident that we’ll have an opportunity to score some points. Of course, this doesn’t take into account the uncertain factors such as high temperatures and unstable weather, but we’ll concentrate on our preparation to give our drivers competitive cars, and hopefully they will both proceed into Q3 in tomorrow’s qualifying.”