Abu Dhabi Test Day 1: McLaren report

Today was a very productive day of running for the two McLaren Honda cars on day one of the final tyre test of the season in Abu Dhabi.

To compensate for the lack of test mileage following the cancellation of the scheduled tyre test in Brazil, McLaren Honda ran two cars on separate programmes.

Fernando Alonso conducted a McLaren tyre test in conjunction with Pirelli, to gather data on both 2017 and 2018 specification compounds. Fernando was scheduled to conduct a full day’s running, but made contact with the barrier at Turn 18-19 which curtailed his programme in the late morning.

Despite this, the team worked hard to get his car back out on track within two hours and he still managed to perform his full run plan, completing 115 laps.

Oliver Turvey ran a slightly shorter programme for Pirelli in a McLaren Honda chassis – the same closed test that would have been conducted in Brazil. He completed a comprehensive run plan with no issues, and clocked a total of 105 laps.

Fernando Alonso: “Today’s been a very positive day. It’s been very useful for us to have a read on the 2018 tyres. They felt good, I felt the performance was there and the degradation was under control, so generally I had a good feeling. I had a small kiss with the wall this morning and we lost some track time, but the mechanics did an amazing job to fix the car so we could go out again before lunch, which meant we could complete the full programme. Now the 2017 season is finally over for me, and from today the focus and preparation will be fully on next year. There is one more test day here and I wish Stoffel and Lando a productive day tomorrow – I’ll follow the results from home and I’ll be back in the factory soon for seat fit preparations and development work for 2018. There’s a lot going on and I’m very happy with the direction for next year.”

Oliver Turvey: “This opportunity came up quite last-minute, but it was a nice surprise to be able to come to Abu Dhabi for the test. I’ve been working with the team all season – it’s my eighth year with McLaren – and I’ve been doing a lot of work in the simulator developing the car over race weekends with the engineers back at the factory. It’s been good to have another opportunity to drive the MCL32 and work with Pirelli on tyre development, and to really get a good feeling for the car. Today has been very beneficial because I’ve driven on this track previously with McLaren, so it’s been useful to do long runs, get used to the car’s handling and find a rhythm. To do 105 laps is really positive. Braking in these cars that have more downforce than previous years is quite demanding, and after not driving a Formula 1 car for a while it’s pretty physical on the neck, but I’ve been well prepared. I can definitely feel the progress that’s been made with the car since I last drove it in Bahrain. Throughout the season we’ve been improving the chassis and I could feel that from the first lap this morning. It’s been really useful for me to get back in the car today, and now I can plug that information back into the simulator and be able to help the team continue with the development programme for next year’s car and move things in the right direction.”