After scoring their first points of the season through stand-in rookie Stoffel Vandoorne at the Bahrain Grand Prix, McLaren are hoping that Fernando Alonso is cleared to race at the Chinese Grand Prix. The Spaniard was forced to sit out Bahrain when he was deemed unfit to compete by the FIA following his spectacular crash at the Australian Grand Prix in Round 1.
The 34-year-old is raring to go after his mini-break spent recuperating before returning to training; He is hopeful that the all clear will be given to race again in Shanghai, as well as keeping his mind open to the fact that it may not be a certainty. As a result Vandoorne will remain on standby:
“It was disappointing to be told I couldn’t race in Bahrain, but I fully respected the decision of the FIA medical team. While I hope I’ll be back in the cockpit on Friday, until I get the all-clear from the doctors to race – whenever that may be – we cannot assume anything, but I’m continuing to prepare for the race weekend as normal. “
“Stoffel did a great job in Bahrain, and although Jenson suffered reliability issues, it was positive to see that both cars ran quite strongly during the weekend. It was also interesting for me to see the race weekend unfold from a different perspective, which helped me to understand everything that goes into getting the cars on track and learn a lot about the different processes, although I’d still prefer to be racing! I’ve always enjoyed driving in China – I’ve won there twice before – and I hope we’ll be able to have some good battles on track and see more progress this weekend.”
Team-mate Jenson Button, will also be hoping for more running and better fortune in Shanghai, after being beaten in Qualifying by Vandoorne and having to retire from the Bahrain Grand Prix with ERS problems relatively early on:
“The Bahrain race weekend was bittersweet on my side of the garage. We definitely saw another step in the car’s performance from Australia as we keep learning more about the handling and characteristics of the car, and bring new upgrades to each grand prix.”
“Friday practice was a real positive, but unfortunately we couldn’t make it stick in qualifying and then suffered reliability issues in the race. Saying that, until the point when we lost power, the car had felt very good, and I’m hopeful that we can continue that momentum in Shanghai and make the most of the package we have. “
“As always though, we need to work hard on our reliability. We’ve definitely seen an improvement in that area, but anything less than 100 per cent is never enough, and it’s important we take advantage of our progress to bring home the points we deserve and have something to show for all of our efforts.”
“I hope we can enjoy some more good racing there this weekend, and most importantly, see the chequered flag.”
Despite the obvious let down of technical issues for Button in Bahrain, the team are happy that improvements in performance have been made, and will look to push on in Shanghai. The Woking based squad are also aware however, that they cannot afford to miss out on any more point scoring opportunities through technical unreliability if they are to achieve their full potential, and will hope to break that cycle in China this weekend.