The McLaren F1 team is bringing a major upgrade package to the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix, which includes a new floor, wings and bodywork for the MP4-31.
In a bid to get drivers Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso through to the final part of qualifying, a feat they were only one-tenth of a second off achieving at the Sochi Autodrom in Russia, the Woking based squad are pushing forward with development now that we have reached the European leg of the season.
The hope is that the team can now push forward in the performance stakes, at a circuit that does not rely greatly on power. There is however a strong chance that many of the other teams will have also planned major updates in Barcelona, due to the tracks close proximity to the UK, and so a massive boost in performance may not be immediately prevalent at first.
Speaking to motorsport.com, McLaren Racing Director Eric Boullier, was quick to play down expectation.
“I don’t know how it [the update] will go for Barcelona, and I don’t want to create any expectation, but Monaco afterwards should suit us, although that race can also be very unpredictable.
“You know the problem is, we thought we could do it in Russia but for one tenth we didn’t. The good news is we were close to Red Bull, which is one of the references in terms of the car, but it was still disappointing to not be there.”
A double points finish out in Sochi was a huge boost for the team, but the amount of fuel saving both drivers have had to do throughout the course of a race is currently hindering their progression. With these new updates, and more in the pipeline for later rounds, McLaren and Boullier are confident they will now have the ability to keep improving.
“It means the package is starting to work. Obviously we need more straightline speed, we need more efficiency because fuel saving is another issue.
“As you saw at the end of the race [in Russia], Fernando [Alonso] was putting in a few laps without fuel saving and we were one second faster – so if we wanted, we could have closed with the other guys.
“But it is coming up, and it is good. We keep bringing every race some developments, so the team is putting a lot of effort in – both McLaren and Honda – so good to see little by little we are closing.”