McLaren and Honda Braced for Nightmare Chinese GP

Henry Kelsall

After a troubled start to the 2017 F1 season, McLaren are in for an even tougher time as the Grand Prix circus heads to Shanghai.

Fernando Alonso may have been battling for points in Melbourne, but McLaren know that things are going to be much tougher in this week’s Chinese Grand Prix. The 0.7 mile long back straight is going to really show Honda’s general lack of horsepower and the rumour is that Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne will run out of deployment two thirds of the way down the straight. The MCL32’s will be sitting ducks on the longest straight on the Grand Prix calendar.

Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia. Friday 24 March 2017. Photo: Glenn Dunbar/McLaren ref: Digital Image _W6I2257

Eric Boullier highlighted the issues as everyone headed to Shanghai;

“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.”

– Eric Boullier

Whilst the engine needs upgrades, so does the chassis. McLaren are not letting things slide in that area, and are bringing upgrades to China to further improve its performance. Alonso retired in Melbourne and Vandoorne finished two laps down in 13th place after a lengthy pitstop to reboot the car. The young Belgian is confident though that the MCL32 can improve substantially throughout the season.

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“Finishing last is never what we would want, and China will be equally difficult for us, but I know we have some new parts for this weekend and as usual we’ll be pushing hard to get the maximum out of our package.”

Fingers crossed for McLaren. The light at the end of the tunnel is still not visible.

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