It was another weekend without points for the McLaren F1 team at the 2016 Chinese Grand Prix, and Fernando Alonso felt that the pace just was not there in the MP4-31. The Spaniard is hopeful however, that the squad will be able to maximise their potential for the upcoming race at the Sochi Autodrom, in Russia this weekend.
“It doesn’t feel like it’s been too long since we last came to Sochi, but I’m looking forward to comparing last year’s car performance with the MP4-31’s. Our car feels very positive, and our progress is encouraging, but I hope we can achieve the potential we can see in our package and put in a promising performance on Sunday, which is when it all counts.
“It’ll definitely be a tricky race – competition in the midfield is very tough, and a lot of the teams are looking pretty strong, with solid reliability. We had a smooth weekend reliability-wise in China and we’re definitely learning a lot race-by-race, so I’m hopeful we can have a stronger result in Sochi.
“This race is particularly hard on fuel, so along with the tyre strategy there’ll be a lot of elements to manage. With each day I feel stronger since my accident, and I can’t wait to get back in the cockpit again on Friday and see what we can do.”
“I enjoyed racing in Sochi in both 2014 and 2015 – the track lends itself to close battles and I hope we’ll be able to mix ourselves in with the pack again there this year. The long, fast straights are generally where our car is weaker, but it’s very well balanced, so I’m looking forward to seeing if we can maximise the strengths of our package at this track.”
Team-mate Jenson Button is also positive ahead of the 2016 Russian Grand Prix and believes that they should be able to get a good result if they can get on top of the strategy choices that hampered their potential at the Shanghai International Circuit in China.
“The last couple of races have been a bit like rolling the dice for us, and we haven’t managed to hook up the perfect weekend yet. We’ve seen some promising results on a Friday and Saturday, but over a long Sunday afternoon race we’ve found it more difficult to maintain our pace. The car feels good and we’re definitely heading in the right direction, but we need to keep pushing and working hard to bring more improvements and power for us to see further progression.
“That said, we knew China would be a tricky circuit for us over a race distance, and we struggled for pace with our tyres towards the end. Hopefully Sochi will be an easier race to manage tyre-wise; we’re consistently putting new parts on the car, and we saw improved reliability at the last race. It’s easy to say we deserved to take more from the first three races, but we need to pull together all of the elements over all three days to give ourselves a fighting chance of scoring some points.
“The new tyre rules definitely spice things up a bit as more variables are brought into the mix, so we’ll need to get on top of that to maximise our chances of keeping positive momentum through to the end of Sunday’s race.”
With just one point from three races so far, the McLaren F1 team will be hoping to up their tally here in Russia. With plenty of potential believed to be hiding within the MP4-31, it is now just a case of being able to unlock that performance on the race track.