F1 Testing: First Test Day in Barcelona

“We’re happy with the learning we’re doing from our new package”

A challenging day for McLaren as the team got an early glimpse of the MCL33’s potential in an interrupted first day of pre-season testing.

Fernando began the session promptly at the start of the day’s running, but only managed to complete six laps before a wheel nut issue led to Fernando being pitched into the gravel minus his rear right wheel.

The associated repairs to what was ultimately a relatively minor issue took some time to complete on the first day of testing where spare parts are naturally at a premium. The car was ready shortly before the lunch break and Fernando managed to get out on track for a couple more laps before the morning’s running concluded.

The scheduled test programme for today included set-up changes and more garage time, after which weather conditions had become less than favourable – the temperature dropping dramatically and the track becoming increasingly wet. The team opted to continue running in order to gather essential data, albeit with a more limited programme than would have been possible in the dry.

Fernando completed a total of 51 laps and clocked the seventh fastest time of the day.

Fernando Alonso:

“The first thing I thought when we had the wheel nut issue was that it was a good day for the media! It was a very small problem, but very obvious when you see a car in the gravel. In testing, there are cars in the garage in pieces and nobody sees that.

“We didn’t plan to run much this morning in our scheduled test programme, and we had planned fundamental changes on the car over lunch, so the lack of morning running hasn’t been a big handicap today. We reverted to our normal programme after lunch, and I’m the one that has done the most laps this afternoon while other teams have had issues.

“For me, I feel that today has been a very good start. The car felt good both here and in Navarra, and there’s definitely strong potential. On the performance side, it’s very early days to make an assessment, but everything seems to be in line with our expectations from the wind tunnel and the data that we had before coming to the test. At the moment, I think everyone is quite optimistic.”