Bahrain International Circuit, Friday 14 April
Under the blazing desert sun and in 39 degrees, the team executed planned set-up changes on both cars between runs during the first practice session of the day. A floor change on Stoffel’s car and a rear wing change on Fernando’s car meant they completed 10 and 14 laps respectively.
Unfortunately, Stoffel suffered an MGU-H issue at the end of the session, curtailing his running and, in the interests of time, necessitating a full PU change, in order to get Stoffel out on track for FP2.
Despite the stop-start nature of the session, both cars ran strongly – Fernando clocking the eighth-fastest time, and Stoffel the 13th.
In FP2, the team experienced contrasting fortunes. Fernando’s session ran smoothly and exactly to his run plan, and he completed 31 laps, which included high-fuel running in preparation for race day.
On Stoffel’s side of the garage, the team did a sterling job after FP1 to get Stoffel back on track – his MCL32 fitted with a new PU – 40 minutes into the second practice session. Unfortunately, after his second run, the engineers detected a problem with his MGU-H that put an end to his programme for the day. The team will now replace this element in time for tomorrow’s running.
FERNANDO ALONSO, McLaren-Honda driver, MCL32-03
|FP1||1m34.372s (+1.675s)||14 laps||8th|
|FP2||1m32.897s (+1.587s)||31 laps||14th|
“It was a good Friday for us, at least on my side of the garage, as Stoffel unfortunately had a lot of problems today. I was running OK and there was some positive news from today in terms of set-up and in terms of the directions to go with the car. We’re 1.5 seconds from the fastest car, which is by far the lowest gap so far. Also, we did 31 laps, which again is a lot of running.
“Considering what we have in our hands, I think we are maximising our potential.
“I think we’re moving in the right direction, but still we have a long way to go, and I hope tomorrow we can have a decent quali. We need to exploit every single lap we have on track tomorrow morning; we need to do a good qualifying and we need to attack in the race. We’re still not 100 per cent confident that we’re on top of our problems, so we need to keep working.”
STOFFEL VANDOORNE, McLaren-Honda driver, MCL32-01
|FP1||1m34.997s (+2.300s)||10 laps||13th|
|FP1||1m34.230s (+2.920s)||8 laps||20th|
“It’s been another troublesome day for me, let’s say. In FP1 we had some engine problems and again in FP2, so very limited running for me today. It’s a shame to miss that much track time, especially in FP2 when the conditions are very similar to qualifying and the race. It’s not been ideal, but hopefully tomorrow we’ll have a smoother run and get on top of the issues.
“We’re going a bit blind into qualifying tomorrow, but Fernando did a lot of running today which was positive. We’ll have to start with a bit of a base of information from Fernando’s side of the garage, but I’m sure it’ll be useful for us as well. Our reliability issues have meant the start of the season hasn’t been ideal, as there hasn’t been a weekend yet where we haven’t had any issues.
“It’s a difficult situation at the moment, but this is how it is. We knew it would be another difficult weekend and hopefully tomorrow will be better for us. I don’t really have any idea what might be possible for tomorrow – we shouldn’t set ourselves any targets – I think we just need to make sure we have a smooth run, and we’ll see what’s possible.”
ERIC BOULLIER, McLaren-Honda Racing Director
“On an extremely hot day here in Bahrain, the mercury nudging 40 degrees, Fernando got through his planned programme without interruption, garnering us a large amount of data to crunch this evening.
“For Stoffel, things were quite a lot more tricky. His car was beset with serial MGU-H issues, which we’re now investigating with Honda, and as a result he was unable to do anything like as much running as we’d have liked him to.
“But both our drivers enjoy the Bahrain International Circuit, and have indeed won here before, Fernando in Formula 1 and Stoffel in GP2, and they’ll do their best to qualify as well as they can tomorrow. Stoffel could obviously do with an uninterrupted FP3 in preparation for quali, so let’s hope it works out that way for him.”
SATOSHI NAKAMURA, Honda R&D Co. Ltd Head Principal Engineer
“After the cold and wet conditions in China, it was the complete opposite here in Bahrain today: hot and dry.
“Fernando showed consistent performance throughout FP1 and FP2, and we were able to go through our programmes on schedule in order to concentrate on finding the best set-up under varying conditions using different tyres and aero.
“It was a tough day for Stoffel as he wasn’t able to complete his running plan in either session due to issues with his MGU-H. These issues are currently under investigation, and meanwhile the team will work hard tonight to change his MGU-H ready for running in FP3 tomorrow.
“Despite Stoffel’s issues today, we are now looking ahead to tomorrow’s FP3 and qualifying. Fernando ran well today and we’re hoping he’ll continue to do so tomorrow, along with some better running for Stoffel.”