Fernando Alonso says McLaren were able to run productive tests during Friday practice at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix to cure its straight-line speed woes while aiming not to lose any pace in the tight and twisty section at the Baku City Circuit.

Since beginning its Renault engine partnership McLaren has been remarkably behind in top speeds on the straights and in qualifying compared to its rivals with suggestions pointing towards his chassis design and high drag.

The problem has left McLaren chiefs searching for answers over the opening three rounds of the 2018 Formula 1 campaign having considered itself to have one of the quickest chassis on the grid during its struggles with Honda power units.

While reports have emerged of a technical hierarchy reshuffle, with Tim Goss removed from his chief technical officer role at McLaren in the build up to the Azerbaijan race, the Woking-based squad has been running update tests specifically looking to combat its straight-line speed deficiencies on the Baku street track’s long straights.

“The car was performing well in all three sectors and there is a little bit more to come,” Alonso said. “It is going to be a close fight with the middle group for Q3, and hopefully this time we are in Q3 not out.

“We have some updates here, minor things, just tuning the set up to this particular circuit. It is quite different sectors here, requiring very different setting on the car.

“We tested a couple of things and they were on the positive side with positive results. We picked up a little extra speed compared to the previous races so I am quite happy with those changes. We didn’t compromise the corners. I know it will be one of our weaknesses this weekend but hopefully less than previous races.”

Alonso ended Friday practice in Azerbaijan sixth fastest with a best lap of 1m 43.700s – aided from taking a late tow off of Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg – to end FP2 under a second off of timesheet-topper Daniel Ricciardo in the Renault-powered Red Bull.

 

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