The McLaren-Honda team suffered a double retirement in Malaysia two weeks ago, but despite this, both Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button were happy with the progress the team have made with their MP4/30 as they head into round three of the season in China this weekend.
Alonso feels the steps McLaren have made since the season-opening race in Australia have been impressive, even if his weekend in Malaysia last time out came to an early end. He arrives at a circuit he has won twice previously confident that the team are heading in the right direction.
“I have lots of positive memories of racing in China – I’ve won there twice, and I really enjoy the track,” said Alonso. “Like Sepang, it’s got a real mix of corners and some interesting fast stuff around the back of the circuit.
“Despite those similarities, however, I don’t think our car package will be as well suited here as it was in Malaysia, especially if the weather is as cold and windy as it usually is in early springtime in Shanghai.
“Nonetheless, the steps we took between Australia and Malaysia were extremely impressive: it was a great feeling to be able to mix it with other cars and drivers, and I hope we can do more of the same in China this weekend.
“That sort of progress really gives the whole team belief and confidence in the path we’re taking, so I hope we can keep moving forwards every time we take to the track.”
Team-mate Button was disappointed to retire in Malaysia, and felt the team had made progress throughout the weekend at Sepang, and is hopeful more progress can be made in China this weekend, even if the long straights and the cooler conditions won’t necessary reveal that progress on track.
“It’s a pity we didn’t finish the race in Malaysia,” reflected Button. “We’d made solid progress up until that point in the weekend, and it would have been a fantastic boost to get a car home in amongst some of the cars in the midfield pack. Still, it’s a target to aim for in China, and I hope we can build upon our pace and performance in Malaysia.
“However, China’s two long straights – each preceded by slow- to medium-speed corners – will place extra emphasis on the power-unit. And there is a feeling that the expected cooler weather will make it harder to generate tyre temperature – which could mean that any progress we make doesn’t necessarily translate to a lap time benefit.
“But there is definitely progress being made, and it’s great to be able to play a role in helping move the whole team forwards. It’ll be fascinating to see how much change we can effect over the forthcoming races.”