The McLaren-Honda team enjoyed a positive Friday as the team showed signs of improvement in both free practice sessions for the Chinese Grand Prix.
Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso both found themselves running inside the top-10 during both sessions, with the pair trying to catch-up to the midfield pack following a difficult start to the season.
Button ended FP1 in 13th place after completing 19 laps, the best of which was a lap-time of 1:41.845. This put the 2009 champion ahead of both Force India cars and the Sauber of Marcus Ericsson.
More progress followed in FP2 as Button managed to put the MP4-30 in a strong 10th position, with a lap-time of 1:39.275.
A delighted Button said: “We look reasonably good out there, but that can perhaps be explained by the fact that we seem to have been able to extract the maximum out of our car today, whereas perhaps some of the other teams haven’t. Still, the car feels nice to drive – especially when we’re running on the Option tyre.
“However, our one-lap pace seems to be better than our performance over a long run, which is a turnaround from how we went in Malaysia. But I think we can make some improvements in that area for tomorrow. Irrespective of today’s finishing position, the feeling with the car is good.
“There’s still plenty of room for improvement, but I’m looking forward to the rest of the weekend nonetheless. There’s been progress today – hashtag progress!”
Alonso also found some pace in the car, finishing FP1 in 17th place before improving to an impressive 12th position at the end of FP2. The Spaniard’s lap-time of 1:39.743 put him less than half-a-second behind his teammate and a top-10 finish.
Following the session, Alonso said: “It’s been a very positive Friday for us – I enjoyed both sessions. We completed our aero programme during the morning, and then focused on set-up work this afternoon. All the updates we brought here seem to be working as we’d expected, and they’ve put us closer to the mid-pack. It’s very encouraging to see that we’re moving firmly in the right direction – it’s a question of time as to when we’ll become competitive.
“Obviously, we began the season from a lower starting point than some of the other teams, so it’s been easier for us to make quick improvements, but the team is so focused and determined to improve – that’s very impressive.
“While it’s been great today to run in the middle of the pack – and I want to be able to maintain that sort of progress – we need to keep our feet on the ground: We saw in the first two races that the others tend to take a step forward in qualifying, so we’ll see what happens tomorrow.”