“Fernando’s performance was very encouraging”
Yas Marina Circuit, Friday November 27
Today’s were a busy pair of practice sessions: not only did we refine MP4-30 for its last competitive outing on Sunday, but we also spent a considerable amount of time collecting and correlating data for use for our 2016 car.
Fernando’s car ran with a test rear suspension set-up for today, and he also ran an interim 2016-spec steering wheel. Both drivers conducted aero correlation work as we continue to improve our understanding of our car’s behaviour, with a view to optimising next year’s chassis.
#14 Fernando Alonso
FP1 1m45.865s (+2.111s) 20 laps 14th
FP2 1m42.955s (+0.972s) 31 laps 9th
“Many things could be behind this afternoon’s performance: first, I think we’ve made some improvements to the car – the team has kept pushing hard to bring performance. But, second, we probably ran the Supersoft tyre at the optimal point of the session, a little bit later than the others.
“I’m happy with the car, and our progress, but, unfortunately, I don’t think we’ll be ninth-fastest tomorrow.
“I tried the Supersoft on my long run – as we expected, there’s a bit of graining on that particular tyre, so the race will be tough, but it’ll be the same for everybody.”
#22 Jenson Button
FP1 1m45.773s (+2.019s) 15 laps 13th
FP2 1m44.050s (+2.067s) 32 laps 16th
“Our side of the garage was trying very different things from Fernando’s. Our programme was all about gaining an understanding for next year. I’ll be changing my car over to his settings tomorrow, which’ll make it a bit more enjoyable, but it’s all useful learning.
“Fernando’s performance was very encouraging – we’re pretty happy with that – it’s very promising. I’ll be running that set-up on my car tomorrow, so we’ll see how it goes.
“Our biggest issue on the Supersoft tyre is overheating in the final sector. That makes the car quite pointy, so it’s about looking after the rears while also pushing the fronts hard to make them work in the first sector. It’s a tricky balance and will make for an interesting race.”
Racing director, McLaren-Honda
“This was a very busy day, as we had a number of important test items to evaluate during free practice. Happily, we made good progress, and we’ve got some very useful data to take home and study as we busy ourselves with preparations for next year’s car.
“Moreover, it was pleasing to see Fernando set a time on the Supersoft tyre that was within a second of the fastest time of the afternoon; to have achieved that, on a circuit that we did not expect to favour our package, was encouraging, and bodes well for the rest of the weekend.
“Jenson didn’t find a comfortable balance in either of today’s sessions, something which was probably exacerbated by the shift in conditions from day into night, which didn’t smooth his progress.
“Nevertheless, we have a good baseline to take forward into tomorrow, and we’ll make progress tonight – of that you can be certain.”
Honda R&D senior managing officer – chief officer of motorsport
“Our first day of the last race in Abu Dhabi went smoothly. Both FP1 and FP2 sessions were completed according to the run-plans, and we were able to confirm the data-mapping on both power units.
“Fernando’s car had a high-voltage sensor go into fail mode at the very end of FP1, but a quick parts replacement was all that was necessary to prepare for FP2. He had a very good feel for the car during the evening session, and seemed satisfied with the overall set-up of the car and the power unit.
“Jenson ran smoothly during both sessions, but seemed to struggle to get the spot-on settings that he preferred. However, we gained an abundance of data from both drivers today, so it will be a busy night to analyse and further tweak the set-up tomorrow in preparation for qualifying and the race on Sunday.”