Having qualified at the back of the grid with both cars, McLaren Honda are unhappy with today's result, but are aware that the car's conservative engine mappings are aimed only at gathering mileage and data, rather than outright performance.
Jenson Button, MP4-30-01, 17th: “This level of performance wasn’t a surprise for us: we knew from winter testing that the pace wasn’t there, so we knew we weren’t going to be competitive here.
“However, there’s a good feeling about the car – I know we’re so far off, but the basic car is there beneath me, and we’re adding to our experience and learning with every lap we do.
“And that’s really impressed me – we’ve gone through our first race weekend together, and we’ve managed to solve each issue that’s confronted us. There’s just a lot of work needed to add power and downforce – but this is an important car for the future of McLaren-Honda.
“It’s going to be a really difficult race for us – we haven’t done a race distance yet, and my longest run is 12 laps – but we want to do the best we can because there’s so much learning to be had.
“It’ll be a tough day, but we’ll be doing our absolute best.”
Kevin Magnussen, MP4-30-03, 18th: “Things were going well on my first run in Q1. Then, on my second run, I had a slight problem with the engine – it didn’t really matter, as we’d have needed a bit of luck to get into Q2.
“For tomorrow’s race, we’re not really focused on getting points – they’re not really on the cards for us – but we’ll go racing tomorrow to try and learn. We haven’t done a full race distance yet, so progress tomorrow will be important. If we can finish, we’ll learn a lot; and, even if we don’t, there’ll still be something useful to take home.
“This isn’t where we want to be, but we’re not ready to win races yet. We’ll put our heads down and keep learning, and we’ll try and take as much experience and knowledge from the race tomorrow as we can.”
Eric Boullier, Racing director, McLaren-Honda: “I need hardly say that everyone at McLaren-Honda is enormously dissatisfied with today’s qualifying result. We’ve got a mountain to climb, but all I can say is: climb that mountain we certainly will.
“McLaren exists to win. That ambition burns as brightly now as ever it has. Equally, racing is ingrained in Honda’s corporate culture. Throughout its history, on two wheels and four, Honda has raced and won at the very highest levels. And the bespoke new racing R&D facility at Sakura is state-of-the-art.
“So Honda will do whatever is required to win, and so will McLaren. And win, eventually, we definitely will.”
Yasuhisa Arai, Honda R&D senior managing officer – chief officer of motorsport: “First of all, I must thank both drivers for maintaining their faith and determination – we’re not where we want to be, but their input and positivity are really helping the whole team push forward.
“Unfortunately, today’s higher temperatures didn’t help the conservative data mapping settings that we chose to run this weekend. From the outset, we took the decision not to gamble any engines away in the opening race, so there’ll be more to come from us.
“McLaren and Honda have come a long way together since the beginning of this project, but we still have a long way to go. However, I’m sure that we’ll continue to make progress – and that first step starts in the race tomorrow.”