McLaren-Honda Racing Director
“Today has been a largely satisfying and successful day. After the decision was made by the FIA medical team yesterday that Fernando could not race, the team quickly and professionally managed the situation and performed the relevant changes required to ready Fernando’s side of the garage for Stoffel’s debut in the MP4-31 as reserve driver.
“Stoffel demonstrated his professionalism by getting straight into the car and settling into free practice very quickly. Both he and Jenson had a positive day of running, and Stoffel fitted in seamlessly with the programme as we knew he would, providing excellent feedback and performing valuable set-up and aero tests. Although our pace looks very encouraging, it’s still only Friday and as always there’s a lot of work to do overnight.
“As in Australia, we have brought upgrades to Bahrain and spent time evaluating the new parts and bedding them in to the package. Reliability-wise we’ve enjoyed another strong day, completing a good number of laps which enabled us to gather a lot of useful data that we will take into tomorrow’s sessions.
“Qualifying, once again, is likely to be tricky to manage; and unpredictable – especially in the midfield positions, but today’s running has been encouraging and we hope to carry this momentum into tomorrow, where we hope to demonstrate the potential in our package.”