“THE PACE WE’VE SHOWN TODAY IS ENCOURAGING FOR TOMORROW’S RACE”
After the contrasting fortunes in yesterday’s running, Saturday morning started positively for McLaren Honda. Both drivers completed their full scheduled run plans with no issues and reported back optimistically on the work done overnight to improve the balance and handling of their cars. Fernando and Stoffel did three runs each, focussing on race set-up rather than qualifying pace, and ending their sessions with practice starts and pitstops. Fernando did 22 laps and finished 16th, while Stoffel did 25 laps and finished 19th.
Since both drivers have incurred grid penalties for a PU change this weekend – 35 for Stoffel and 20 for Fernando – the team opted to prioritise race preparation over qualifying performance – the latter of which would have done nothing to influence their starting grid positions. Given Stoffel’s limited running on Friday, he ran with higher fuel in Q1 to provide the engineers with further data ahead of the race, yet he still put in a solid lap in Q1 for 13th place and passed comfortably through to Q2.
Fernando opted for a slightly different strategy, running lighter than Stoffel in Q1 where he drove a fantastic final lap to set the fifth fastest time of the session.
In Q2, both cars took to the track but neither driver set a time. Due to their penalties, Stoffel will start from 19th on Sunday, with Fernando just ahead in 18th, due to penalties for