Abu Dhabi GP: Practice team notes – McLaren

The first free practice session in bright sunshine and hot temperatures was spent dialling the car in to the Yas Marina Circuit, while also planning ahead for the considerable change in conditions before FP2, which takes place under darkness and on a much cooler track.

Neither Fernando or Stoffel were particularly happy with the balance of the car in the first session but nevertheless spent the time wisely, evaluating a number of set-up parameters and completing aero tests. Stoffel finished 18th and Fernando 19th.

Greater mileage was planned for the second session in more representative track conditions. While Fernando maximised his track-time without any problems and was more satisfied with the progress made throughout the day, Stoffel had a small issue on his car which prevented him from fully completing his run plan. They finished 13th and 18th respectively.

Fernando Alonso: “In such hot conditions FP1 wasn’t very representative, so it gave us a little time to experiment with some stuff for next year’s concept in terms of car development. In FP2 we concentrated more on this weekend, testing two types of tyres and got some useful information. We’ll be more ready for tomorrow and we’ll see where we are.

“If the track is going to be that hot again tomorrow for FP3, we’ll do some more tests for next year, and hopefully gather some good information for the team.

“This weekend is going to be tough for us. We need to be realistic. Friday is normally a little bit better as people are hiding, and we expect qualifying to be difficult.”

Stoffel Vandoorne: “It wasn’t a great final Friday for me! We had quite a few problems to go through and lost a lot of time in FP2 in the garage, so I didn’t really get a feel for the high-fuel running.

“It wasn’t the optimal day, but I hope tomorrow we can put all the bits together and have a clean day, which would be nice to finish off with.

“I’ve had a pretty good run of races over the past few weeks, so hopefully if we manage to put everything together we can do that again. It looks like the tyres are a little bit tricky again, so there’s going to be a bit of a question mark for me going into the race, but I’m here to enjoy it, have fun and make the best of it.

“There’s always a bit of pressure to maximise everything, and even though it’s my last race I still want to do the best I can.”

Gil de Ferran, Sporting Director: “We have mixed feelings about today. Unfortunately, we had a small issue on Stoffel’s car in FP2, which curtailed his run-plan. On Fernando’s side of the garage, we had a trouble-free day and made consistent progress from free practice one to the end of the day.

“It’s obviously hard to make predictions about tomorrow, since the midfield is very tight. Nevertheless, we feel encouraged by our performance today on both high and low fuel.”