Honda R&D Co.Ltd Head of F1 Project and Executive Chief Engineer, Yusuke Hasegawa, expects the Malaysian Grand Prix to be a challenging race for the McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team.
The team had a promising race at the Singapore Grand Prix two weeks ago, but it is unlikely that they will be able to emulate their pace this weekend going into a circuit that does not suit their car. The long straights and sweeping corners mean that the deficiencies of the Honda power unit will be amplified.
““The layout of Sepang International Circuit is a mixture of long straights and sweeping corners, which will no doubt make for an exciting race,” commented Hasegawa.
“Despite it being a power-hungry track, the changeable conditions mean anything can happen, so hopefully if we prepare well we can capitalise on any opportunities that come our way and break into the points.”
The McLaren had been expected to look good around the Marina Bay Street Circuit at the last Grand Prix, and this was shown throughout the Free Practices, where the drivers sat fifth and sixth fastest at one point.
Unfortunately for Fernando Alonso, his race was over before it had begun after being caught up in the first lap carnage, but Stoffel Vandoorne finished a career-best seventh position.
“Last time out in Singapore we had mixed fortunes. Fernando was involved in an unfortunate incident and ultimately retired, while Stoffel’s pace was competitive and he drove incredibly well, eventually crossing the line in P7.
“Overall it was positive that we were competitive throughout the weekend and came away with some precious points.”
Fortunately, the collision did not cause damage to Alonso’s power unit, meaning that he goes into the weekend without grid penalties (at this point).
“Regarding Fernando’s Singapore power unit, we were concerned that it may have been irreparably damaged, but fortunately after a thorough check back at the Sakura factory we can confirm it is okay to be re-used.”