Formula 1

More to come from McLaren drivers after promising opening day in Mexico

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Credit: Mclaren F1 Team

It was a mixed day for the McLaren F1 Team on the Friday of the Mexican Grand Prix weekend as Carlos Sainz Jr. finished in seventh and eighth while teammate Lando Norris struggled in the morning with fourteenth place before improving to tenth in the second session.

The Spaniard completed a total of 59 laps over the two sessions, finishing the day with a fastest time of 1:18.079.

While Sainz was showing promise, he remained realistic after the session, “I think it’s been another solid Friday,” said Sainz. “Not finishing off in the best way with a scrappy lap on the Soft tyre in Free Practice 2 but, overall, I felt comfortable with the car and comfortable with the set-up.

As with the majority of the drivers, McLaren suffered from tyre degradation, this is something that Sainz is aware that the team have to work on over the second day of practice and qualifying.

“We haven’t made massive changes throughout the day and we completed our run plan, so that’s good news. Still, it looks like the big thing this weekend is going to be tyre graining and how to manage it. We’ll analyse the data gathered and get ready for tomorrow.

Norris struggled in the opening session, using the runoff area at Turn 1 on numerous occasions. Like his teammate, the British driver completed 59 laps from two sessions with a fastest time of 1:18.349

“It was an okay kind of a day, ” said Norris. ” I struggled with locking into Turn One and we’ve had a few niggles with the car. Things were better in Free Practice 2 and especially near the end of the session.

“The main thing is that there are clear points for the team and I to work on. There’s plenty of work for us to do overnight but I’m sure we’ll come back stronger tomorrow.

McLaren performance Director Andrea Stella explained the reasoning about why this weekend makes such a difference to car handling and speeds.

“Racing in Mexico City is very interesting because it poses unique challenges associated with the low air density,” said Stella.

“It’s challenging for cooling the power unit and the brakes, and it’s challenging because there’s significantly less downforce available here than anywhere else.

Aside from these traditional issues at the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez, we’re also challenged – perhaps even more so than last year – by tyre behaviour, with graining common across the field.

He discussed what work the team had achieved during the day.

“During Friday’s sessions it was therefore important to work on the cooling package, on the handling of a low-downforce car and on improving our understanding of the tyres. The team did good work and we’ve gathered a lot of data to study tonight.

“In terms of performance, we’re pretty much in line with where we’ve been in previous races, and I’m hoping for a clean qualifying session tomorrow and good points on Sunday.”

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