McLaren endured a nightmare weekend in Australia and they know things won't get much easier at the second race at Sepang.
Fernando Alonso: "I watched the weekend in Australia very closely and I was in touch with the team from the moment they arrived. It’s clear we have a lot of work ahead of us but Jenson’s result in Melbourne was encouraging from the point of view of reliability and data collection, which are extremely important. I’d also like to say thanks to Kevin for his efforts over the weekend, and it’s a real shame he wasn’t able to get to the grid.
"I’ve been working hard on my fitness and I feel good and ready to go this weekend. The heat in Malaysia is always very tough for the drivers but I’ve been focusing on this in my training and I’m definitely prepared for all of the weather conditions that we can face in Sepang. This track has always been one of my favourites, it’s a really exciting circuit to drive and there’s the opportunity for good overtaking battles between the straights and the fast corners. I’ve won three times in Malaysia, including in 2007 with McLaren, and although we are a long way from the front, everyone in McLaren-Honda is working hard to develop the package and keep building momentum with each race.
"The weekend will be tough, but I’m looking forward to getting into the MP4-30 for the first time in a Grand Prix and getting back to racing. I’ve spent some time in the simulator back at the factory with the team, and my focus will be on continuing the development of our package with my engineers, and working on our balance and race set-up. There’s a lot of potential in the car and we will keep pushing every race until we see results."
Jenson Button: "Melbourne was certainly a challenging weekend for us, but there were positives to take from it. A lot of our performance was largely unknown coming into the weekend given the limited running we had over winter testing. Despite our finishing position, getting to the chequered flag has meant that we’re now armed with much more data about our package and we can learn a huge amount from it.
"Of course, nobody can be happy with finishing at the back of the pack, and we know there is a lot to do to bridge the gap to the rest of the field. However, the work going on within McLaren-Honda both in Woking and Sakura is relentless; the whole team is working tirelessly to keep developing our package to ensure we keep making steady progress.
"Malaysia will be another tricky step in the learning process for us. It’s often an unpredictable race and the extreme temperatures will test our car and tyres to limits that they haven’t been exposed to yet in testing. With the possibility of rain added to the mix, it will be interesting to see how our car behaves in changeable conditions. Our aim is to maximise our mileage throughout the whole weekend. Sepang itself is a fantastic circuit – I love going there and I have memories of great battles there and of my win in 2009. It’s a real favourite among the drivers owing to its high-speed corners, long straights and plenty of overtaking opportunities. The heat is always pretty brutal, but it’s definitely a good test of a driver’s fitness and a place where our tough training regime always pays off!"
Kevin Magnussen: "The result in Melbourne was obviously disappointing for me. It was a fantastic opportunity to get back in the cockpit and work with the team to keep developing the car, and I was pleased to be chosen to take Fernando’s place. I went into the weekend feeling ready even though we knew it would be a huge challenge, and I was keen to show the engineers that I could work closely with them and provide valuable feedback as we prepared for each session. Unfortunately, when we came to race day, it wasn’t meant to be and I wasn’t able to make it to the grid. Despite that, we learned a lot and being part of the team with Honda was a great experience. The whole team will be pushing hard in Malaysia and I’ll do my bit as always…"
Eric Boullier – Racing director, McLaren-Honda: "Obviously the result in Melbourne is not one that McLaren-Honda would have dreamt of. However, our mileage over the weekend proved invaluable and we’ve taken a lot of learning and insight from the data we collected. It’s also encouraging that we ran in each session, which enabled us to make progress with necessary system checks, set-up variation and aero tests.
Malaysia will be a big challenge and completely different to the task we faced in Melbourne. Given the extreme heat and humidity, it will be tricky to find good balance in the car in the changeable conditions and through the high-speed corners. Both drivers in Melbourne reported good driveability in the chassis, but getting enough heat into the tyres to improve car performance is proving difficult and something that we mustn’t underestimate with the high track temperatures at Sepang.
"I’m pleased to see Fernando back in the car – he’s raring to go and I know he’s been working hard behind the scenes to prepare himself for this weekend. I would also like to thank Kevin for his hard work in Melbourne; he provided extremely useful feedback and, despite not being able to race, has been a strong support in our development of the MP4-30 so far. Both McLaren and Honda are working together as one team to improve our package, day in, day out, and we’re looking forward to arriving in Malaysia with the aim of getting more mileage under our belts and pushing forward with car development."
Yasuhisa Arai – Chief Officer of Motorsport, Honda R&D Co Ltd: "Melbourne being our first race of the season, we were only able to approach the race with a conservative setting on the power unit, maintaining a slight margin off of the full output. One car was able to finish the race whereas one car suffered power unit hardware issues.
"We know that Malaysia will be tough on the power unit with its high temperature and high humidity environment, as well as the abrupt braking and acceleration required for the circuit. However, we will evolve to set our control data to adapt more to this circuit. We do not yet know if we will be able to do that in a marginally less conservative manner than we did in Australia, but that will be our initial target."