Chinese Grand Prix – McLaren Racing Director Eric Boullier has conceded that the Shanghai International Circuit will pose a tougher challenge for Honda compared to the Australian Grand Prix track.
Despite turbulent pre-season testing, for McLaren and Honda, the Woking team contested the opening round of the season in Melbourne with ‘positive’ results. Fernando Alonso managed to secure a place in the second part of qualifying and managed to compete in the points for much of the race.
However, following contact from an overtake by Force India’s Esteban Ocon, Alonso eventually retired from the race, with McLaren team-mate Stoffel Vandoorne finishing the race two laps behind due to technical difficulties.
Despite the “better than expected” pace, Boullier doesn’t believe that McLaren will be as competitive at this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix due to it’s high demand on the power units.
“The Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park was undoubtedly a difficult Grand Prix for McLaren-Honda, but also an event from which we were able to take a number of positives,” said Boullier.
“Our pace on Saturday was better than expected and Fernando in particular was able to take advantage of a higher grid position to give us more muscle during the race, until his unfortunate retirement.
“Shanghai is known to be an unpredictable weekend for a number of reasons: it’s tough on cars, tyres and power units and the weather is often precarious, but I can predict that we won’t be as fortuitous with our pace, compared to our rivals, as we were in Australia.
“The characteristics of the Shanghai International Circuit are very different from Melbourne, and its long, fast straights will likely expose the weaknesses in our package more than Albert Park did.
“However, we will of course attack the race with our usual fighting spirit, and the most important thing will be to ensure reliability with both cars before focusing on performance.”