The McLaren Honda Formula One Team believes its latest upgrade package performed better than expected in last month’s Mexican Grand Prix, giving the team optimism for next season.
McLaren had run with a new front wing on Fernando Alonso’s car for the United States Grand Prix, where Alonso said the performance gains were “great”. Indeed, Alonso’s thoughts were backed up by the car’s performance in Mexico where he set the fastest middle sector of anyone in Q1.
McLaren’s racing director Eric Boullier did little to hide his surprise at the car’s performance in Mexico and suggested that the upgrade package was indeed delivering more than initially expected.
“Let’s say it is a little bit better than we were expecting,” Boullier told Motorsport.com
“It was a surprise. We were not expecting to be that competitive, but if you put everything relative apart, the new full package that we introduced on Fernando’s car last weekend looks like it delivers a little more than expected – which is good news. Hopefully Stoffel [Vandoorne] will have it in Brazil as well.
“It is good as a reference as well, because it is part of next year’s car, and it is good to know where we are and what we can do.”
Earlier in the year, Alonso famously described him and his McLaren as “the fastest in the corners” and the Spaniard maintains that McLaren still possess the best chassis in Formula One.
Boullier however, believes it’s impossible to compare his team’s chassis with that of Red Bull Racing for example, due to differing characteristics with both cars.
Questioned about Alonso’s comment, Boullier said: “It is nice to hear, because this is obviously the best reward a team can have.
“When you are a driver of Fernando’s calibre and he is complimentary of the chassis, then it makes me proud of the team and obviously I am proud of what we achieved.
“But I think every race is a bit different. The car characteristics are different between our car and the Red Bull car for example, so we know what is our weakness versus the Red Bull car, and I am sure they know the inverse.
“That means we still have to work. But it is good. And after we reset the car concept three years ago, to have caught up with the top teams is quite an achievement, I would say.”