After struggling for laps in the post-season tests in Abu Dhabi at the end of 2014, it was another tough day for the McLaren-Honda team in Jerez, with Fernando Alonso completing only six laps during the day.
The Spaniard, returning to the team after previously racing for McLaren back in 2007, only set one timed lap which put him seventh fastest out of seven, but was not overly surprised that they suffered issues after what happened to teams in 2014 when the other three engine manufacturers (Mercedes, Renault and Ferrari) brought out their new power units.
“Given the complexity of modern Formula 1 machinery, the sorts of issues we encountered today weren’t too surprising,” said Alonso. “They’re just the things you experience on the first day of a Formula 1 test. But it’s been a fantastic day for me: to have the privilege to drive the car for the first time – for the comeback of McLaren and Honda after 23 years – makes me feel extremely proud.
“Obviously, I don’t really have a feeling for the car yet – I only did a handful of laps, and most of those were at slow speed, conducting preliminary checks – so I need a bit more time to be able to speak accurately about it. But everything seems to be responding well, and showing us what we expected.
“We have a lot still to learn, but let’s not forget how tough it was for a lot of teams last year. It’ll be no different for us. Every lap we do, we learn something, so hopefully we’ll arrive in Australia with a good understanding of the car.
“So far, everything feels very exciting – there are a lot of positive emotions inside the garage for everybody, and I’m very happy to be part of this project.”
Racing Director Eric Boullier said he was expecting the team to suffer some issues with their new MP4/30 in Jerez, especially with the car being all-new from its predecessors and with an all-new power unit from Honda in the back.
“Today was a challenging day, which was not surprising to us given that our car has been designed to a radical all-new size-zero philosophy,” said Boullier. “In fact, we’re still in the process of analysing this afternoon’s technical issues, systematically and methodically, in an effort to increase our mileage in the coming days.
“What’s particularly encouraging is the way that McLaren’s and Honda’s technicians and engineers are already working so well together – collaborating seamlessly in their shared ambition to nail a revolutionary new car’s inevitable developmental gremlins as soon as possible.
“Tonight will be arduous and sleepless, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. Bring it on!”
Jenson Button will be in the car for day two, with the team hopeful of getting some meaningful running done.