Eric Boullier was full of praise for the engineers behind the scenes at the McLaren F1 Team after the updates brought to the track this weekend for the Spanish Grand Prix has seen a jump in performance for the outfit, with Fernando Alonso making it through to the top ten shootout for the first time this season.
Alonso will start eighth on the grid at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, while his team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne was close to joining him inside that top ten, the Belgian set to start the race from the eleventh spot on the grid.
Boullier, McLaren’s Racing Director, knows Saturday is not when the points are awarded, but it was a positive first Qualifying session for the updated MCL33, and it shows the first big step forward as they aim to join the battle at the front of the field.
“Today’s result is an important validation of the immense amount of hard work that is being put in behind the scenes to move closer to the competition ahead of us,” said Boullier. “I’d especially like to thank everybody back in Woking for their tremendous team effort in bringing all the new parts we planned to complete our updated package on time.
“Of course, Saturday doesn’t offer any championship points. However, while not yet a cause for celebration, eighth and eleventh positions on an aerodynamically-challenging track such as this mark our best qualifying session of the season so far, and is certainly the step forward we were hoping for on track to correlate with the evidence we saw in simulation.
“We’ve said many times that we can’t expect miracles overnight, and there is a long season ahead of us, but we feel today’s result demonstrates the first step for us in the progressive development of the MCL33.”
Boullier admits that only on race day can McLaren truly test the new updated MCL33, but the objectives as always will be to stay out of trouble and maximise the result, and possibly bring home the teams fourth two-car points finish in five races.
“Time will tell, and the first real test of our updated package will come in tomorrow’s race,” said Boullier. “The primary objectives are to race cleanly in this tight midfield pack, stay out of trouble and optimise our strategy to ensure we maximise our chance to bring home more points.
“Let’s see what we can do from there.”