McLaren didn't have the strongest of days as the Formula One season kicked off today at Australia. The team struggled to get mileage in, but only due to a 'few niggly problems', rather than structural issues.
Jenson Button, driving the MP4-30-01 admitted they lacked the mileage to be fully done with the set-up.
“We didn't get as much mileage as we’d have liked in today’s sessions", Button said.
"The lack of running in FP1 made it more difficult for us to get a good base set-up for FP2; you can’t set the car up around a single timed lap, so we didn’t have the momentum that we’d normally have going into FP2. Nevertheless, we improved the balance quite a bit through the afternoon. We have a few niggly problems to solve, but the basic car doesn’t feel too bad.
“We know it’s not going to be easy, but we’re all working as one team, we’re solving the problems as we go, and, hopefully, we’ll be competitive sooner rather than later. We’ll put our heads down and get the best out of what we’ve got this weekend. A lot of hard work will be needed, but we knew that would be the case coming into the season.”
Kevin Magnussen meanwhile got even less laps done, crashing his MP4-30-03 early in the second session.
“We didn’t get too many laps in FP1. Then I went off and damaged the car in the afternoon, so I didn’t get much running under my belt in FP2 either", the Dane said.
“I tried to push my braking point into Turn Six, then lost the rear on entry. The car still made the apex, but then it snapped at a difficult time. I couldn’t avoid hitting the wall. It was a driver mistake. It’s a shame, but these things happen – my bad – and life goes on.
“The positive is that the balance and feeling of the car feels good – we’re not as fast as we’d like, but we’re not too far off the optimum balance in the car. Clearly, there’s a lot more to come, but it’s definitely a good baseline.”
Racing Director Eric Boullier wasn't too worried about the lack of running, and even less surprised as the team knew they were on the back foot after a difficult winter.
“There’s a neat circularity to the fact that McLaren-Honda starts its second era in the same country at which it ended its first. Here in Australia, there’s always a tingle of nervousness and anticipation on the first day of the new season, but I’m pleased and proud of the way in which both McLaren and Honda have dovetailed successfully to work as one team.
“Clearly, our practice times today indicate that we have work to do in order to close the gap to our rivals. It was a difficult day, but we expected that. Nevertheless, the feedback from both drivers, and the potential within the package, give us great optimism for the future.
“We always knew that the first race of the year would be tricky, but we’re working hard to narrow the gap, and I think there’s more to come tomorrow.”
Yasuhisa Arai of Honda proved optimistic after "a promising day" with "a slight system data control issue towards the end of FP1".