20 February 2015
Barcelona F1 Test (1): Upbeat Alonso senses McLaren’s ‘quick’ potential
Fernando Alonso says the potential of the McLaren-Honda MP4-30 was evident for the first time as he completes 59 competitive laps.
Fernando Alonso feels he is beginning to understand the potential of the McLaren-Honda MP4-30 after getting the chance to challenge its limits and push on the second day of pre-season testing at the Circuit de Catalunya.
Following its relative lack of mileage in Jerez, McLaren-Honda's progress is being keenly observed in Barcelona. However, though its week didn't start well when a problem with the MGU-K limited Jenson Button to 21 laps on the first day, Alonso notched up 59 laps on day two.
Indeed, though McLaren initially suggested Alonso would only get limited running on day two, Alonso was given the chance to explore its potential, while his mileage ensured the team has already completed more laps over two days than it managed over four in Jerez.
Better still, Alonso's seventh fastest time – 1.4secs off Daniel Ricciardo's top time – was met with encouragement, the Spaniard saying he has been given a preview of the car's potential going forward.
“It has been a beautiful day for me, driving the car and exploring some of the potential,” the two-time F1 champion said. “Obviously we are running with some limitations still on the engine and the full power but definitely the car felt better than Jerez.”
“We started running at 9am and finished at 5.45pm, which is good news finally. We could test some of the potential of the car and complete some laps and check many systems that we could not do before, so every lap we do we learn things and every lap we do we discover new things.
“When Jenson had the problem and we had a difficult day [yesterday], then maybe I was a little more pessimistic, but today finally showed to all of us, to the team, to the guys, to the factory in England and Japan, that we are heading in the right direction. The potential of the car is there, with limitations or not, the car feels good and quick.
“We are in an early phase with the development of the car but it will be very interesting and very challenging, because it is a completely new project and everyone is so excited about the McLaren-Honda partnership.
Though McLaren-Honda's mileage is still significantly lower than its rivals having now completed 157 laps over six days with six more to come – Mercedes has completed 729 laps as a comparison -, Alonso says there is clear progress being made.
“We are half-way through the test, six days done and six to go, so we need to make some progress. We know we did 60 laps, which is lower than the other teams, so there is a long way to go definitely, but we are making progress.”
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