McLaren Honda’s Fernando Alonso got his first opportunity to drive the new MP4-31 on Tuesday as he took over running the car from Jenson Button.
This time last year Fernando Alonso was in a hospital bed in Barcelona following his heavy crash however fast forward 12 months and the double world champion put that firmly behind him as he clocked up 119 laps over the course of the day working on integrating the new systems on MP4-31 and mileage.
Alonso ended the day with the ninth fastest time overall however at this earlier stage it is not about performance it is more about systems checks. Alonso set a time of 1m 26.082s ending the session just behind the Manor Racing MRT05 of Pascal Wehrlein.
Speaking following his first day back at the office, Alonso commented by saying:
After a long break, it’s good to be back, and to complete a good number of laps – something I missed this time last year.
“The first priority for the team this winter was to make sure we went through the problems we had last year and find some solutions, and we’ve done this, at least on the reliability side. I’m proud of the team and the job that everyone has done together on this car. I enjoyed today, but I think there is performance we need to unlock in the car.
“Most of the laps we did today were for aerodynamics studies, and reliability studies: brake temperatures, water temperatures, etc. For a driver, these are things that are not very exciting, so I’m looking forward to doing some setup changes and running with different fuel levels to really enjoy the driving as well.
“On the aerodynamic side, there are a lot of parts that are quite new for us, so we need a little bit of time to mature the package, and the same on the power unit, too. For us, last year we learned a lot, and now with a completely new philosophy we still need a bit of time to understand everything and exploit its potential.
McLaren Racing’s Director of Engineering Matt Morris commented on today’s programme saying:
We had a good day with regard to reliability again; enjoying two days with no serious reliability issues has been a real positive.
“Today we spent most of the morning performing aero characterisation work, which required a lot of the instrumentation on the car. Although this part of the testing is time-consuming, we have gained confidence that the chassis is delivering as expected, such that we can now move on to looking to exploit the performance potential.
“This afternoon we spent some time doing basic set-up work, running through control systems and characterising the chassis, as a continuation of yesterday’s work with Jenson. We also ran through a number of different engine modes on the power unit to check functionality and integration, which went very smoothly and provided us with useful data. Most of the day was spent running at the harder end of tyre compound scale, so we shouldn’t read too much into the absolute lap times.
“We completed everything we had planned for our programme for today, and a little bit more besides, so, overall, another very positive day of running under our belts.”
Jenson Button will be back in the car on Wednesday for his final outing of the opening Barcelona test.
Speaking abut today’s running, Honda R&D Co Ltd Principal Engineer Satoshi Nakamura commented by saying:
Today’s testing target was to do continuous laps at a steady pace so we could gauge the harvest and deployment of the power unit, and perform all energy management system checks.
“Thanks to the team’s hard work and Fernando’s focus in the cockpit, the 119 laps on track gave us plenty of feedback to finish today’s planned running programme early. I am pleased to say that we will have lots of data to look through tonight and tomorrow onwards.