Honda Head of F1 Project Yusuke Hasegawa was thrilled to see the McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team pick up their first points of the season, with a ninth place finish for Fernando Alonso at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix this weekend.
The Japanese praised the Spaniard for his heroic efforts in securing the two points on Sunday, and also felt Stoffel Vandoorne pushed the MCL32 as hard he could, despite missing out on a points paying position.
Although the numerous incidents in the race may have played a part in the Woking based squad achieving points this weekend, Hasegawa believes the team performed the perfect strategy on Sunday, considering where they started the race.
“Despite the chaotic sequence of the race with so many incidents including the red flag, I think it was a successful day for the team. The drivers both drove faultless races and kept out of trouble to cross the finish line, and to top it off Fernando took home our first points of the season.
“Fernando showed off his impressive skill throughout the race, overtaking several cars on his way to the top 10. Stoffel also pushed hard, and almost managed to join Fernando in the points but just missed out in finishing P12.
“In addition to the drivers’ skill behind the wheel, the team executed a brilliant strategy today, fully utilising every opportunity of Safety Cars and the red flag, so thank you to them.
“Although we still saw a big gap to the front-runners, it was a great result if we consider that we started from the back of the grid on what is a very power-hungry circuit where we had expected a challenging weekend.”
Honda have a planned engine upgrade for both cars at the next round in Austria, where they will bring in phase three of their power unit. Alonso tested a toned down version of the updated unit during the practice sessions on Friday, and the results were positive.
The Japanese manufacturer is keen therefore to make the switch, and is hopeful that the update will allow McLaren to produce another strong performance at the next race in Spielberg.
“For the next round in Austria, we are scheduled to bring our updated Spec 3 PU for both cars following the successful test here in Azerbaijan.
“In the meantime, we will continue our development with our best efforts in order to continue closing the gap.”