Coming off a promising race at the Singapore Grand Prix, McLaren Honda Formula 1 Team‘s Racing Director Eric Boullier does not think their chances are as good at the upcoming Malaysian Grand Prix.
It was accepted that the McLaren would look stronger around the Marina Bay Street Circuit thanks to their strong chassis, but will again struggle due to lack of power from the Honda engine in Malaysia.
“There’s no denying Sepang will be tough for us – both for our package and for our drivers – as we often see the hottest temperatures and highest humidity levels of the year,” commented Boullier.
“Our two drivers are among the fittest on the grid, so I’ve no doubt they’ll approach the weekend fully prepared as usual. The conditions present a pretty unique technical challenge for our engineers too, as we try to find the best compromise in terms of performance and cooling over the whole weekend.”
In Monza and Singapore, the McLaren has looked fast over a single lap, with Stoffel Vandoorne making it into Q3 on both occasions and Fernando Alonso qualifying a respectable eighth in Singapore. However, the likelihood of qualifying so well is significantly lessened this weekend.
“As for performance, we will of course be pushing for Q3 on Saturday – as we have done over the past couple of races – but this circuit is unlikely to be as kind to us as Singapore in terms of outright lap-times. As ever, reliability will be key in these tough conditions, as points are only ever possible with a reliable car, as will avoiding any first-lap chaos, which is always easier said than done.
“As ever, reliability will be key in these tough conditions, as points are only ever possible with a reliable car, as will avoiding any first-lap chaos, which is always easier said than done.
“Nevertheless, our drivers report that the MCL32 has good balance as well as strong traction on slower-speed corners wherever we race in the world, both of which factors will be a benefit on a track of this nature. We’ll aim to bid a fond farewell to Sepang International Circuit after 19 great years, and I hope we can put in a fitting performance in front of our Malaysian fans.”