For the McLaren team, China’s Grand Prix will be the first real reality check. Because at the Albert Park Circuit, a strong Fernando Alonso almost scored World Cup points, even though the Spaniard and teammate Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren currently see at the very end of the field.
The long, fast straight lines will probably show the weaknesses of our package more than was the case in Albert Park”, Fear racing director Eric Boullier.
Who this unbridled criticism is aimed at, it is clear: Driver Honda. The new drive unit of the Japanese proved to be weak and unreliable during the tests, at least in Melbourne it was possible to improve the durability. But Honda’s motorsport boss Yusuke Hasegawa already knows: “The China Grand Prix will be even more challenging.”
Generally, Boullier considers the Shanghai weekend “unpredictable. It is hard for cars, tires and drive units. Moreover, the weather is uncertain.”However, he promises that the pace of McLaren will be more informative compared to the competition than in Melbourne.
The pilots also expect a hardness test. This could affect Alonso’s mood in particular.
Alonso expects “a lot of work” for the team
Australia would have been “a surprise for us, because we did not expect to move at this level, although the result on the paper at the end shows the reality”, thinks the two-time World Champion.
Remembering: While Alonso was brilliant in qualifying and placed the MCL32 in starting place twelve, Vandoorne became the 13th and last after the Spanish failed in the race. The Belgian arrived at the finish with two laps behind.
Alonso sees “a lot of work” coming to his team, but expects updates in spite of the overtaking races every race week.” This also applies to China,”he says. Also his Belgian teammate Vandoorne does not believe that the task becomes easier in the second season race: “You never want to be the last, and China will be similarly difficult, but I know that we will have some new parts,” tries the 25-year-old, Seeing the situation positively.
Flexibility will once again be a trump card for the McLaren newcomer, as he explains: “The course is new to me. I am therefore looking forward to driving in China for the first time, and not just in the simulator, and adapting to changing conditions.”