Formula 1

“Quite challenging to get through the programme” – McLaren’s Andrea Stella on practice sessions in Portugal

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Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren MCL35M, makes a pit stop front on

McLaren F1 Team’s executive director, Andrea Stella, described the Friday practice sessions as ‘busy’ due to the shortening duration of each session and ‘difficult’ as the wind picked up throughout the afternoon.

The Woking-based team travelled to Portugal in high spirits after achieving their first podium of the season, with belief they could add even more throughout the season. However, the MCL35M struggled around the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve on Friday. 

Lando Norris went eighth fastest in the morning session, just under one second behind the leader Valtteri Bottas, and struggled in the afternoon to only manage twelfth. 

His teammate Daniel Ricciardo will be hoping for an excellent result in Portugal this weekend after a disappointing opening two races, but the Australian followed a similar pattern to his British partner. He could only go twelfth fastest in the first practice session before recording his quickest time in the afternoon, just over half a second behind Lewis Hamilton and finished eighth.

Stella highlighted how the shorten duration of both practice session made things slightly busier on track, plus the changing conditions, but said they still got plenty of information ahead of qualifying tomorrow. 

“Today, both practice sessions were very busy – the shortened 60-minute duration makes it quite challenging to get through the programme.

“In addition, here in Portugal, the conditions are quite testing because of the low-grip tarmac, the slow warm-up of the tyres and because of the wind, which make driving the car at the limit difficult. 

“We had a very useful Friday and gathered good information on where we would like to improve the car overnight, and also on the likely behaviour of the tyres for the race. 

“We’ll put it all together tonight, make some adjustments, and do our best tomorrow.”

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