McLaren-Honda shows pace and potential in qualifying at Albert Park Circuit

Jenson Button: “We have a better race car than a qualifying car”

McLaren-Honda shows pace and potential in qualifying at Albert Park Circuit
Jenson Button, McLaren MP4-31 in the pits
Jenson Button, McLaren MP4-31
Jenson Button, McLaren MP4-31
Fernando Alonso, McLaren MP4-31 spins
Fernando Alonso, McLaren MP4-31
Eric Boullier, McLaren Racing Director with Fernando Alonso, McLaren
Fernando Alonso, McLaren MP4-31
Jenson Button, McLaren MP4-31
Fernando Alonso, McLaren MP4-31 spins
A Jenson Button, McLaren fan
Fernando Alonso, McLaren MP4-31
Fernando Alonso, McLaren MP4-31
Fernando Alonso, McLaren MP4-31
Jenson Button, McLaren MP4-31
Fernando Alonso, McLaren MP4-31
Mark Webber, Porsche Team WEC Driver and Channel 10 Presenter with Jenson Button, McLaren

Melbourne, Australia - Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button will start tomorrow’s Australian Grand Prix from 12th and 13th respectively after demonstrating the pace and potential of the MP4-31 package in qualifying this afternoon.

The track was dry for the quali session, for the first time this weekend, and the team maintained the promise it first showed yesterday. Both drivers comfortably graduated through Q1; in the second session, they set solid initial times, but, without any fresh sets of Supersofts remaining, they were unable to challenge thereafter, choosing not to run again.

After an inconclusive winter test, both Jenson and Fernando declared that the MP4-31 had made a significant step forwards in terms of pace, giving them both the confidence and belief comfortably to push it to the limit. Benefitting from much improved deployment, McLaren go into tomorrow’s race hopeful of showing further promise and potential.

#14 Fernando Alonso

FP3: 11th 1m27.263s (+1.639s) 20 laps
Q1: 3rd 1m26.537s (on Options)
Q2: 12th overall 1m26.125s (on Options)
Q3: -

“The car was fantastic today. I felt very comfortable and very happy with the performance of the car all weekend. We didn’t expect to be too fast here because our car is still limited in performance in certain areas. But we were more competitive than we anticipated, have some new things coming for in the next few races, and we’re looking to be stronger in the future.

“Perhaps we need to give the new qualifying system a bit more time. However, I believe it favours the strongest teams and is a bit unfair towards the less competitive teams."

“Because we’d used two sets of Supersofts in Q1 – where I finished third – we only had one chance to run in Q2. On my first run I felt competitive, I was 10th, running under the same conditions and on the same rubber as everyone else; I was only 1.2s off the Mercedes, which was a nice surprise, but then I had to sit in the garage and watch how quali developed, which was a bit sad."

“Of course, the top teams don’t need to use both sets of Supersoft tyres in Q1, so the onus is on us to get back to being a top team again, and only use up one set of Options in Q1. But maybe we should do what Moto GP did in qualifying last year – where the less competitive teams could use softer tyres in qualifying. In Formula 1, we’ve chosen to do the opposite."

"Tomorrow will be interesting – hopefully we can get both cars into the points.”

#22 Jenson Button

FP3: 12th 1m27.341s (+1.717s) 20 laps
Q1: 7th 1m26.740s (on Options)
Q2: 13th overall 1m26.304s (on Options)
Q3: -

“Twelfth and 13th on the grid is slightly better than we expected before we came here.

“The car didn’t feel too bad, although I think people struggled with the drop in temperature between FP3 and qualifying. I enjoyed driving the car, although, at the end of Q2, we didn’t have any Supersoft tyres left, and weren’t quite quick enough."

“The only problem we encountered with the new qualifying regulations was in the pit-lane: the four cars behind us were being wheeled backwards into the garage at the same time as we were trying to stop in the box, change tyres and run again. It’s quite a narrow pit-lane here, so it turned into a bit of a mess."

“Winter testing was positive in terms of mileage, but less so in terms of pace, so we’re all positively surprised with how close we were to Williams and Force India. I actually believe we have a better race car than a qualifying car – which is a turnaround from last year – and our deployment is almost as good as anybody else’s, which will benefit us more in the races."

“Today isn’t too bad a starting point – much better than where we were this time last year.”

Eric Boullier – McLaren-Honda Racing Director

“Today’s qualifying hour was exciting for the first few minutes of Q1, but it then petered out very disappointingly."

“Like many of my opposite-numbers within other teams, on behalf of our sport, I have to say I’m saddened that the new qualifying format produced such a lacklustre spectacle."

“As regards our own form, well, 12th and 13th isn’t much to write home about, but, having qualified in the middle of Q2, we have freedom of choice re tyres for tomorrow, so we’ll now move on from a day that did our sport no favours and crunch data in an effort to optimise our race strategy."

“Encouragingly, both our drivers reported that our car felt very nice, and that its balance allowed them to push it in the way that all racing drivers hope for of a good racing car. So MP4-31 is clearly well conceived, and its development will continue apace."

“In the meantime, as I say, let’s see what tomorrow brings.”

McLaren-Honda

shares
comments
F1 drivers prohibited from throwing visor tear-off strips on track

Previous article

F1 drivers prohibited from throwing visor tear-off strips on track

Next article

Palmer sets the 14th and Magnussen the15th fastest time today at Albert Park

Palmer sets the 14th and Magnussen the15th fastest time today at Albert Park
Load comments
How Barnard's revolutionary McLaren transformed F1 car construction Prime

How Barnard's revolutionary McLaren transformed F1 car construction

The MP4/1 was pioneering by choice, but a McLaren by chance. STUART CODLING relates the tangled (carbon fibre) weaves which led to the creation of one of motor racing’s defining cars

Why the end is nigh for F1’s most dependable design tool Prime

Why the end is nigh for F1’s most dependable design tool

Wind tunnel work forms the bedrock of aerodynamic development in Formula 1. But as Pat Symonds explains, advances in virtual research are signalling the end of these expensive and complicated relics.

Formula 1
Jun 13, 2021
Why Mosley’s legacy amounts to far more than tabloid rumour Prime

Why Mosley’s legacy amounts to far more than tabloid rumour

The newspapers, naturally, lingered over Max Mosley’s tainted family history and niche sexual practices. But this is to trivialise the legacy of a big beast of motor racing politics. Stuart Codling weighs the life of a man whose work for safety on both road and track has saved hundreds of thousands of lives, but whose penchant for cruelty remains problematic and polarising.

Formula 1
Jun 12, 2021
Why pragmatic Perez isn't fazed by no-nonsense Red Bull F1 culture Prime

Why pragmatic Perez isn't fazed by no-nonsense Red Bull F1 culture

Sergio Perez has spent most of his career labouring in Formula 1’s midfield, wondering whether he’d ever get another shot at the big time. Red Bull has handed him that chance and, although life at the top is tough, the Baku winner is doing all the right things to get on terms with Max Verstappen, says BEN ANDERSON

Formula 1
Jun 11, 2021
What the data tells us about the F1 2021 title fight Prime

What the data tells us about the F1 2021 title fight

Formula 1 has been tracking car performance using timing loops mounted every 200m around each circuit – to the extent that it was able to anticipate Ferrari’s 'surprise’ pole in Monaco. PAT SYMONDS explains what this means for this season and beyond

Formula 1
Jun 10, 2021
The weighty issue F1 needs to find a balance with Prime

The weighty issue F1 needs to find a balance with

OPINION: After consecutive street races with contrasting highlights, one theme stood out which has become a prevalent issue with modern Formula 1 cars. But is there a way to solve it or, at least, reach a happy middle ground to help all parties?

Formula 1
Jun 10, 2021
The changes behind a 'feel-good' F1 result in Baku Prime

The changes behind a 'feel-good' F1 result in Baku

OPINION: The Azerbaijan Grand Prix had elements that make Formula 1 really exciting – unpredictability and shock results. This resulted in heartbreak for several of the championship’s regular contenders and joy for others who rarely reach the ultimate limelight. And one of those on the Baku podium is riding a wave of form he’s keen to continue

Formula 1
Jun 9, 2021
The human cost to replacing Formula 1's cancelled rounds Prime

The human cost to replacing Formula 1's cancelled rounds

OPINION: With the global pandemic still lingering, Singapore's grand prix has been cancelled for 2021, with more looking likely to follow. Although Formula 1 has TV deals and profits to chase, retaining a 23-race calendar could be most harmful to those who sacrifice the most for the championship.

Formula 1
Jun 8, 2021