Stoffel Vandoorne heads into the Spanish Grand Prix looking for a fourth top-ten finish of 2018, but despite running pre-season testing at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, the very different weather conditions expected this weekend compared to what they experienced back in February and March will mean any data gathered at the track will mean very little.
The McLaren F1 Team racer has scored points in the Australian, Bahrain and Azerbaijan Grand Prix so far this season, and he heads into the first European race of the season with some confidence after spending some time in the simulator back in Woking to prepare for the challenge in Spain.
“Heading back to European races always feels very satisfyingly familiar, especially in Barcelona,” said Vandoorne. “We all know the track very well and spend a lot of time there – in fact, it doesn’t feel that long ago that we were there during pre-season testing!
“Thankfully, the weather should be a little bit more reliable this time around. Although we do a lot of testing there and we have a lot of data about the circuit, we weren’t able to do a lot of representative running pre-season due to the weather conditions and the issues we had.
“However, I’ve spent time back at the factory in the simulator since Baku, so the key will be to translate that information to the track and get a read on our package as soon as possible on Friday.”
Vandoorne says the updates McLaren are bringing to the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya will need some extensive testing during Friday practice, but he hopes the weekend will see him finish inside the points for the fourth time in five races this season.
“That package will include a few new components that we’ll be working hard to learn about and evaluate on Friday,” said the Belgian.
“There’ll be a lot to assess and for sure other teams will be planning the same thing, so as always we’ll need to race hard, ensure good reliability, and optimise our strategy to be able to come home with more points.”