McLaren Honda’s Jenson Button was happy with how the final day of winter testing went at the Barcelona Circuit Du Catalunya in Montmelo on Friday.
The 2009 world champion ended the day in seventh place with a fastest time of 1m 24.714s having completed 121 laps in the MP4-31. Speaking about his final day in the car before the opening race of the season in Melbourne, Australia, Button commented by saying:
It’s positive to finish our testing programme on a good note, with 121 laps. It’s meant we’ve been able to look at a number of different aerodynamic configurations, and learn a lot about the car and how it behaves, which is really useful given that there’s only 10 days until we fly to Melbourne.
“It’s great that we’ve been able to complete a lot of mileage over the two tests, which has been really useful to get feedback on the power unit, the aerodynamics and a bit of the set-up work done as well. It’s also allowed us to do a lot more system checks and integration – which gives us a definite advantage in terms of preparation compared to last year.
“We still have a lot of work to do, and the windy conditions have made it quite difficult to really work on the set-up of the car, but it’s something we’ve all had to deal with. This afternoon, as we got more laps under our belt, we started to get to grips with the balance and handling, and evaluate different options for the first race. I still don’t feel like we’re ready – there are still a lot of changes that will be made on the car before it’s in full race trim – and you always seem to need more testing than you have, to find the balance you want for the first race, but we have the experience to do that when we get to Melbourne.
“There are still quite a few areas that we need to work on, but overall during the tests we have made improvements in many areas, and we need to keep focussed and bring new parts to every race to keep pushing our development.”
McLaren Racing Director Eric Boullier commented on winter testing by saying:
We haven’t run the full 2016 specification yet during the tests, so it means we’ll go to Australia with more new parts on the car. But we’ve been able to do good mileage on most of the days, which is very good news, and in terms of the chassis it was important that we could go through all of the systems checks – something we couldn’t do last year – so it’s a good achievement. We seem to have a pretty reliable car now to start the season, so we are definitely more confident in that sense, too. The base package looks okay, but there should be more performance coming in the next few weeks.
“We’ve had a very ambitious manufacturing and production programme over the winter, and we are constantly working on new developments back at the factory. We have to strike a balance between that and giving the maximum time to the aerodynamicists to develop the package, which compresses the lead time on production, but this is a normal situation in our industry and we are fortunate to have the resources to constantly push our development and manufacturing. In the past, you’d put together a big package of updates for Melbourne, another one for Barcelona, but now it’s every race, and we are well-versed in bringing regular updates every race weekend, so from Melbourne onwards this will be no different.
“Overall, we’ve ticked a lot of boxes on our test programme checklist, so from that point of view I’m satisfied with the work we’ve completed. Of course, it never feels enough – we could test all day every day and still want to do more – but we’ve definitely made a good start. We will see when we turn up in Melbourne with our full specification where we are; the other teams have clearly made big gains, too. So far we have been correlating well with our factory which gives us reasonable confidence, and we’ve covered a decent amount of mileage, so we feel more comfortable and prepared thanks to the amount of data we have. Time will tell – it’s too early to set expectations, and from here our hard work will continue right the way through to Melbourne and beyond.
McLaren and Honda now go their separate ways to the relevant HQ’s in the UK and Japan and speaking about the test programme Honda R&D Co. Ltd Head of F1 Project and Executive Chief Engineer Yusuke Hasegawa commented by saying:
The two weeks of testing here in Barcelona have been generally good for us, as we were able to confirm the improvements in reliability, deployment and engine performance that we focused on during the off-season. Especially in the second test, the fact that we ran the power unit without any issues for four days straight is a good result for us.
“We still need to perform final checks and preparation for reliability on the dyno, and finalise the power unit data, but we have surely and steadily progressed in our preparation for Melbourne.
“It is difficult to determine the outright performance of the whole package yet with testing alone, but for Honda, it is very important to keep pushing ourselves during the season to improve our competitiveness and achieve points finishes.