“IT FEELS SPECIAL AROUND HERE”

#JapaneseGP
Both McLaren Honda drivers made a solid start to their Japanese Grand Prix weekend, despite finishing this morning’s FP1 session not completely satisfied with the balance of their MCL32s.
A torrential rain shower in FP2 rendered the afternoon’s session a near-complete washout, with only five drivers establishing a lap-time in the wet conditions.
While neither Fernando nor Stoffel set a time, they both ran a couple of incomplete laps to evaluate set-up changes ahead of qualifying tomorrow, which is currently expected to be drier.

THE DRIVERS

FERNANDO ALONSO
#FA14 MCL32-02
FP1 1m31.235s (+2.069s) 19 laps 12th
FP2 No time 2 laps 11th

“As predicted, we had a Friday with only one dry session, so we tried different things in the first session, and did as many laps as we could.
“In FP2, it was raining too hard so we couldn’t do much. We did a few laps at the end of the session, when it had stopped raining, but there wasn’t much purpose in running in the wet as it looks like it’ll be dry in the race, and probably qualifying too.
“The car was behaving well on a circuit where performance is mainly expressed in the fast corners of the first sector. It feels special because there’s so much grip out there.”

STOFFEL VANDOORNE
#SV2 MCL32-03
FP1 1m31.202s (+2.036s) 24 laps 10th
FP2 No time 1 lap 14th

“So far, it’s quite difficult to know what to expect, especially as today’s running was very limited. FP1 was quite normal, without any trouble, but we only got to do an installation lap in the rain during FP2.
“The weather will be key tomorrow – it looks like it’ll be a dry race on Sunday, so qualifying will be super-important. Looking at the weather radar for tomorrow, it’s still a bit difficult to predict, it should potentially be dry in quali tomorrow.
“The car felt nice around here. Suzuka’s a high-speed circuit with lots of direction changes and, especially with with the downforce and wider tyres we have this year, they’re very impressive in the first sector;very exciting to drive.
“Whatever happens, we’ll make the best of it this weekend.”

THE MANAGEMENT

ERIC BOULLIER

McLAREN HONDA RACING DIRECTOR

“As ever, at Suzuka, the weather can make things difficult – and this afternoon’s FP2 effectively became a complete washout due to the heavy rain. Luckily, we managed to get a few exploratory laps under out belts, which was useful for evaluating a few systems checks, but, like everyone else, we’ve got a lot of work to do tomorrow.
“Both drivers were relatively happy with their cars during this morning’s dry FP1 session – but, again, they’ve highlighted a few shortcomings which we’re still working to cure ahead of qualifying tomorrow.
“Nevertheless, I think we’ve made a solid start to the weekend.”

YUSUKE HASEGAWA

HONDA R&D CO. LTD HEAD OF F1 PROJECT & EXECUTIVE CHIEF ENGINEER

“We have been looking forward to having our home Grand Prix at Suzuka. However, it was disappointing that we lost so much track time due to the rain today.
“With such a complex circuit layout, car set-up is key.Therefore, we will look to analyse the data that we were able to gather from today’s session together with McLaren tonight.
“I’d like to thank all the home fans who visited the circuit in such poor weather conditions. It was great to see so much support. We hope to show them a good result in tomorrow’s qualifying.”