Stoffel Vandoorne: “It feels like we’ve got something to work with”

Stoffel Vandoorne ended both free practice sessions on Friday in tenth
Credit: Zak Mauger/McLaren

Despite missing around half of the morning session as his McLaren F1 Team mechanics made precautionary checks on his car following an exhaust issue on the sister car of Fernando Alonso, Stoffel Vandoorne felt Fridays running at the Albert Park circuit was ‘pretty good’, and many things were learned.

The Belgian did not set a timed lap in first forty-five minutes of the first session of 2018 but ended up tenth fastest by the time the chequered flag fell, a position he would finish in again in the afternoon session, with his best time of 1:25.285s coming in the later of the two ninety-minute sessions.

“Today was a pretty good day,” admitted Vandoorne. “We lost a little bit of track time in the first 45 minutes of FP1 but had a very good run after that and got some good learning from the car, which was the most important thing after winter testing. The issues we had weren’t big problems, and we got on top of everything pretty quickly. 

“We had a very productive day, so I’m looking forward to putting all the pieces together with the set-up for tomorrow and seeing where we’re at. I think we’re in reasonable shape and the feeling in the car is positive – it feels like we’ve got something to work with.

“Everything is running as we want it to, and we just need to keep pushing forward to gain performance.”

Vandoorne was pleased that the afternoon session in particular allowed the team to work through their entire programme, and with the weather likely to be unsettled on Saturday, the Belgian hopes McLaren can be in a position capitalise on those conditions in Qualifying.

“The most important thing was to go through our programme and we did that, and I’m excited about the possibility of running in a wet qualifying tomorrow,” said the Belgian.

“I think we’re in a very close group with some other teams, and the conditions will make things a bit more difficult for everyone. Hopefully we can benefit from the rain that’s on the radar this weekend and make the most of it.”