Yas Marina Circuit, Friday November 21
FP1 1m46.049s (+2.573s) 23 laps 11th
FP2 1m42.895s (+0.782s) 37 laps 3rd
“It hasn’t been a bad day, all in all. I tried out our new front wing during both today’s sessions, and it felt different, which is good. Fortunately, we managed to get a lot of testing of it done, and we learned some interesting things about it, so that’s good too.
“It – our new front wing – follows a very different philosophy from our regular front wing, and I think today’s running has given us a positive direction for the future.
“Looking forwards to the race, the Option [tyre] has shown itself to be extremely soft; it needs to be looked after in order to last a stint. And, in terms of degradation, there’s quite a big difference between the two compounds.
“Although I ended up in P3 today, it’s possible that we may not be quite able to fight for the second row tomorrow. All year we’ve tended to look stronger on Friday than we do on Saturday. Some of the other teams seem to be able to find a bit of extra pace overnight – and I guess that may happen again here. Even so, we’ll be giving it our very best shot, so let’s see how it pans out. The car feels okay, and tomorrow is when its speed will really count.”
FP1 1m47.235s (+3.759s) 8 laps 17th
FP2 1m43.503s (+1.390s) 23 laps 8th
“This afternoon we had an issue with the rear suspension, then a hydraulic problem ahead of FP2. I also had a problem with something inside the cockpit, which meant I had to climb out then climb in again, so I suppose you’d have to say it’s been quite a busy day.
“Because of all that additional work, we haven’t really established a good set-up foundation – but then that’s a natural consequence whenever you find yourselves having to right so many things that have gone wrong.
“Over one lap, the car looks pretty good – but whether it’ll be the same tomorrow, I don’t know. We need to do a bit more work to get a proper idea of how the tyres will behave across a long run.
“So we’ve got a lot to do overnight, but, hopefully, we can put the car right for tomorrow, and then we’ll see where we are.”
Racing director, McLaren Mercedes
“Today was a very busy day – for a number of reasons.
“First, we were able to test our latest iteration of front wing. It would have proved difficult to run it on both cars, but, as we always alternate new components between our drivers, it was Kevin’s turn to run our new front wing during both sessions today, Jenson having run the new components last time we tested any.
“All in all, we were very happy with its debut performance – it’s doing exactly what we expected it to do.
“It was unfortunate for Jenson to be hit with not one but two mechanical issues during today’s practice sessions. The first occurred early in first practice, when we discovered a suspension-related issue at the rear of his car. We’d fully resolved that, and were reassembling the car, when we noticed an entirely separate problem involving the hydraulics.
“It was touch and go as to whether we’d be able to get Jenson out during today’s second practice session, but I doff my hat to our intrepid mechanics, who worked gallantly to get his car turned around in time, losing just 35 minutes of track-time in the process.
“Of course, that’s not an ideal way for Jenson to start his weekend – but he suffered a similar mishap during FP1 in Brazil, and he bounced back superbly. It won’t hold him back, of that I’m certain.
“Given the critical nature of this weekend, with the unusually large number of championship points on offer, it’s essential that we work really hard to ensure that both our cars qualify well tomorrow. Kevin’s pace on the Option [tyre] over a single lap certainly looked encouraging, so we’ll be giving it everything we’ve got at this most unique of events to convert that early promise into a decent show in qualifying tomorrow.”