Stoffel Vandoorne was in a positive frame of mind after Friday’s practice sessions at the Bahrain International Circuit, with the McLaren F1 Team racer aiming for an appearance in the third phase of Qualifying on Saturday.
The Belgian ended thirteenth fastest in first practice before moving up to tenth in the second session, and was less than two-tenths of a second behind team-mate Fernando Alonso in both.
“Today has been a pretty good Friday for us,” said Vandoorne. “We have a few new bits on the car which we went through and evaluated in FP1 and FP2. FP2 is really the most valuable session for us in terms of preparing the car for qualifying tomorrow and for the race.
“The feeling was positive. Like in Australia, we are in this group where the lap-times are very close, and every tenth or hundredth we can find in the car will boost us further up the grid. Qualifying is always very tight and everyone puts their car at 100 per cent performance.
“We’re looking to do that as well tomorrow and we’ll see where we end up.”
Vandoorne says there is performance to be gained if a driver can manage their tyres better this weekend as the track surface causes extreme levels of degradation.
“The tyres are quite sensitive to this circuit and we know from the past few years that it’s quite harsh on degradation,” said Vandoorne. “There’s a lot of performance to be gained or lost in that area, so it’s an extra challenge, but the same for everyone.”
Despite both Vandoorne and Alonso scoring points in Australia, their expectations for Bahrain have not been heightened, and all the Belgian wants to do is maximise their potential.
“Despite our result in Australia, for us it’s just business as usual,” insists the Belgian. “We haven’t really changed our expectations, and we’ve put a lot of effort into preparing the car and making sure we maximise everything this weekend.
“Hopefully that will pay off and tomorrow will be a positive day for us. There’s a bit of work to do overnight but we’re looking forward to tomorrow.”