McLaren’s Eric Boullier: “The pace we’ve shown today is encouraging”

Credit: Clive Rose/McLaren

Eric Boullier said Saturdays running at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, both in Free Practice and Qualifying, was aimed to prepare of the race with both Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne both taking grid penalties for unscheduled engine changes.

Both drivers made it through to Q2 on Saturday but did not set a time in that session, ending up fourteenth and fifteenth respectively, but both are set to start right at the back of the field thanks to twenty and thirty-five place penalties, but Racing Director Boullier felt the team did everything right on Saturday.

“Today’s running was all about preparation for tomorrow,” said Boullier. “Since both drivers have sizeable grid penalties this weekend, it made much more sense for us to focus on race set-up – saving engine mileage and valuable tyres in the process – as we look ahead to what statistically-speaking is one of the more challenging races on the calendar for us.

“I’d like to praise the team for a very efficient and productive FP3, and a perfectly-executed qualifying session that went completely according to plan. This morning we managed to complete everything we had planned with no problems, and both drivers worked hard to dial-in their cars for the race.

“The team has worked tirelessly overnight to improve the set-up in preparation for tomorrow, and Fernando and Stoffel both felt happier and more comfortable in the car than at any point during the weekend so far.”

Boullier said Alonso’s Q1 lap proved that the MCL32 car is fast this weekend in Mexico City, but the pace for both drivers during Qualifying gives them hope that both can move up the order on Sunday.

“In qualifying Fernando put in a monster lap to set the fifth fastest time in Q1, which was only two-tenths off P1 in that session,” said Boullier. “His second sector was the fastest of any car out there.

“For Stoffel, it was essential that he completed as much race preparation as possible given his limited mileage on Friday, and he drove solidly despite the higher-than-normal fuel load to get through to Q2 on this tricky circuit.

“For both drivers, qualifying positions were not what we were aiming for today. Tomorrow is the day that matters and the pace we’ve shown today is encouraging for tomorrow’s race.”