After a troublesome pre-season, the rekindled McLaren-Honda partnership were hopeful of some meaningful running on the opening day of practice at the Australian Grand Prix, but system data control issues in the morning and a crash for Kevin Magnussen was not what the team required.
After completing just seven laps in morning practice, Magnussen admitted his responsibility for the crash at turn six during the second free practice session that saw him end his session with a damaged car after just four laps, but felt the balance of the car was positive despite completing so little distance over the two practice sessions.
“We didn’t get too many laps in FP1,” said Magnussen. “Then I went off and damaged the car in the afternoon, so I didn’t get much running under my belt in FP2 either.
“I tried to push my braking point into Turn Six, then lost the rear on entry. The car still made the apex, but then it snapped at a difficult time. I couldn’t avoid hitting the wall. It was a driver mistake. It’s a shame, but these things happen – my bad – and life goes on.
“The positive is that the balance and feeling of the car feels good – we’re not as fast as we’d like, but we’re not too far off the optimum balance in the car. Clearly, there’s a lot more to come, but it’s definitely a good baseline.
“Hopefully we’ll get a better idea of where we are in FP3 tomorrow. Hopefully we can go into qualifying feeling a bit more confident.”
Team-mate Jenson Button could only complete six laps during the morning session, but was more productive in the afternoon, as the Briton completed twenty-one laps. He agreed with Magnussen that the car does not feel that bad out on track, but knows this weekend will be one of learning and solving problems.
“We didn’t get as much mileage as we’d have liked in today’s sessions, but the balance didn’t feel too bad,” insisted Button.
“The lack of running in FP1 made it more difficult for us to get a good base set-up for FP2; you can’t set the car up around a single timed lap, so we didn’t have the momentum that we’d normally have going into FP2.
“Nevertheless, we improved the balance quite a bit through the afternoon. We have a few niggly problems to solve, but the basic car doesn’t feel too bad.
“We know it’s not going to be easy, but we’re all working as one team, we’re solving the problems as we go, and, hopefully, we’ll be competitive sooner rather than later.
“We’ll put our heads down and get the best out of what we’ve got this weekend. A lot of hard work will be needed, but we knew that would be the case coming into the season.”