FP1 & FP2 - Mexico GP report: McLaren Honda
Jenson started the morning session running the newer Spec-4 ICE for the first time. His car was affected by a high-voltage sensor failure during the session. Faced with a lengthy operation to fix the problem, the team instead elected to cut short his running and press on with the planned PU change ahead of FP2. Jenson ran FP2 with his second Spec-4 of the weekend.
Fernando was also running a brand-new Spec-4 ICE today, as well as a new gearbox. His morning running was affected by a cut to the left-rear tyre. Again, the team made a pragmatic decision, electing to conduct a further handful of evaluative laps using an Inter rather than break out a fresh set of Primes to conclude the session.
The afternoon session was more profitable. Fernando was quickly on the pace, and ran through his regular programme. Jenson made a delayed start to proceedings while his mechanics readied his new PU, but was quickly back on track. Despite a delayed programme, he still managed to get some useful laps on the Option under his belt.
While both drivers will take grid penalties after qualifying tomorrow, we ended today’s session an encouraging eighth (Fernando) and ninth (Jenson).
“During FP1, some debris caused a cut on my left-rear tyre, so I had to do a run on Intermediates. Nevertheless, the car keeps improving with the new parts. We’re definitely making progress, but, obviously, with the penalties we have, we’ll be starting from the back row. That means we’ll spend tomorrow concentrating on our race pace and tyre management – we witnessed more degradation out there than perhaps we’d expected.
“It’s great to be at a new circuit. The atmosphere within the circuit is great – the people are very enthusiastic. The track itself is very slippery – which makes it not as enjoyable as we’d hoped for – but hopefully tomorrow a bit more rubber will go down and we’ll all be a bit faster in the corners.”
“This morning was tricky – there was very low grip, and it felt like the water was staying in the asphalt, which felt very strange. In the afternoon, the grip was much better – the track is more fun to drive when it grips up; you can place the car and carry speed through the corners.
“Regarding brake wear, I think it’s going to be a tough weekend for everyone – particularly in the race, when cars will be running closely in traffic. But I’m looking forward to an unpredictable race – despite starting from the back, we’ll be aiming to make a good start and the drive the wheels of it, as we always do.
“We can have some fun around here.”
“It’s very encouraging to find both cars in the top 10 at the end of a difficult day’s practice. The track was clearly extremely slippery throughout both sessions, and certainly wasn’t helped by a light smattering of rain at the end of this afternoon’s running.
“Nonetheless, both Fernando and Jenson were immediately on the pace, and – despite a few hiccups – were able to run through their practice programmes.
“Hats off to our hard-working mechanics, too, who have fitted no fewer than three new ICEs this weekend, including a very efficient planned change on Jenson’s car between today’s sessions. With these new components having a knock-on effect on our grid positions, we’ll be toiling tirelessly to ensure we have a car that’s capable of making progress in what’s likely to be an unpredictable and exciting race on Sunday.”
“Mexico is a special place for Honda and F1, and we’re happy to be part of the sport’s return here.
“Contrary to the weather forecast, the track remained dry until the last runs of FP2, and thankfully we were able to put in enough laps to set up both the chassis and power units for this new track.
“Jenson ran with new power units in both FP1 and FP2, with a planned engine change taking place in-between sessions. During FP1, the high-voltage sensor on his car went into a fail mode, which resulted in the decision to stop early and swap out the power unit during the lunchbreak. Fernando put in a solid number of laps which has helped the team tremendously to gather much-needed data, including the effect of the high-altitude characteristics of the circuit.
“We think that we have a good direction on the data setting for the power unit, so we will analyse further tonight before tomorrow’s qualifying.”