McLAREN - GP of Monaco Thursday Notes
2015 MONACO GRAND PRIX – FREE PRACTICE
“A promising start to our Monaco weekend”
Circuit de Monaco, Thursday May 21
Given the changeable weather, today’s practice sessions were all about providing the drivers with the mileage needed to familiarise themselves with the tricky Monaco circuit.
Following overnight rain, the morning’s session started damp but dried quickly. By contrast, a heavy shower in the middle of FP2 ensured that there was little running done this afternoon. Fernando enjoyed an easier day than Jenson, who missed the first hour this morning, then was affected by a couple of precautionary stops during running.
The timing of the rain meant neither Fernando nor Jenson was able to try the Option tyre today. That will head the job-list when running resumes on Saturday morning.
FP1 1m19.791s (+1.041s) 28 laps 11th
FP2 1m18.906s (+1.714s) 18 laps 8th
“I always enjoy driving around Monaco, especially in dry conditions, when you can really get close to the barriers: the rush of adrenaline is intense.
“Nonetheless, you never feel comfortable here – you have to drive the car on the very limit; you’re close to the barriers, which is difficult for everyone.
“Today, we got very little running on the Supersoft, but hopefully we can take advantage of that on Saturday, when everyone will get limited running on the softer tyre. That should help level the playing field. Then, if it’s dry on Sunday, it’s going to be a one-stop race, for sure.
“Our chassis is responding well, so hopefully we can take a step forwards on Saturday. However, as we’ve seen before, everybody seems to improve in qualifying.
“Saturday is when you have to deliver a magic lap – so I’ll be trying my very best.”
FP1 1m20.202s (+1.452s) 15 laps 12th
FP2 1m19.606s (+2.414s) 14 laps 15th
“I lost quite a bit of running time in FP1, which was a shame, but it is what it is. Then, in FP2, I had a brake temperature issue, which cut another of my runs short. In terms of balance, the car feel all right – but there are areas where we know we can improve, so things aren’t too bad.
“In the wet, however, I had a few problems – I couldn’t generate enough temperature in the tyres, so we need to look into that. Tyre warm-up in general is pretty tricky here – even on the Primes, it normally takes four or five laps, and the quickest lap of the run tends to be the last one.
“Looking at the re-profiling they’ve done ahead of this year’s race, I don’t like Tabac as much as before. They’ve made it tighter now, whereas it used to have a nice flow to it. Mind you, I’ve been taking that particular corner for 15 years, so the change catches you unawares a little bit. The first part of the Swimming Pool is a bit faster, and it helps to stop you drifting wide into the exit barrier on the left.
“Saturday morning will be crucial for everyone, because it’ll be the first time we’ve properly sampled the Option tyre. It’s the same for everybody, so it doesn’t really matter.”
Racing director, McLaren-Honda
“As everyone knows, getting your eye in during Thursday practice is crucial for the drivers, and, unfortunately, we weren’t able to give Jenson that opportunity today. He missed the first half of running during FP1, and was hit by a couple of niggling problems during both sessions, so he probably didn’t get enough laps under his belt to establish a proper rhythm.
“Fernando made good progress in both sessions, and his pace looked promising when running in both wet and damp conditions. It’s impossible to get an accurate read on overall pace until everyone samples the Supersoft tyre, but this has been a promising start to our Monaco weekend.”
Honda R&D senior managing officer – chief officer of motorsport
“In the time between the test at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya last week, and the start of the Monaco Grand Prix, we’ve been focusing on improving the driveability data of the power units.
“The plan today was to use the two practice sessions to test the power-assist and throttle response to power output, but unfortunately we were unable to complete the programme due to the wet conditions in FP2. Saturday's FP3 will now be a busy and important session, when we plan to test the remaining items.
“As for qualifying, we aim to improve the low- to mid-speed driveability further to match the circuit. Time is of the essence, so we’ll do our best.”
Tom has been a contributor to RIS since 1992. He was invited to join the staff as a full-time reporter/editor in 1995, and has covered IndyCar, Formula 1, NASCAR, Grand-Am, ALMS and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. In addition to his RIS work, Tom has been a contributor for General Motors, Nissan, Toyota and the ACO.