Alonso ending up with best lap at the Silverstone test may force him to reevaluate his gloomy outlook on McLaren’s ability to keep pace.
— Amy (@Amy_Meacock) July 12, 2016
After the results at Silverstone, the Spaniard wasn’t feeling too optimistic about McLaren’s chances against its competitors. Both he and teammate Jensen Button lamented the team’s lack of pace next to the likes of Mercedes and Red Bull. However, he may be singing quite a different tune after the testing at Silverstone which he ended with phenomenal results. After completing 105 trouble-free laps, he topped the charts with a best time of 1 min 31.290 secs, 1.6 secs faster than any other driver and half a second faster than his fastest qualifying time over the weekend. Pacing’s none too shabby, as far as we can tell.
— Formula 1 (@F1) July 12, 2016
So what changed this time? For starters, the team’s been zeroing in on aero and assessing the gains made with the token-assisted Honda power unit upgrade. But McLaren’s edge has gotten an unlikely boost from the torrential downpour that day, a weather condition it prepared for with super-soft rubber tyres for Alonso. It appears these tweaks made all the difference, as Alonso was unchallenged for the entirety of the 105 laps. So McLaren-Honda got a stellar result out of him, along with some invaluable data.
“It was very pleasing to complete today’s test programme, despite the ever-changing conditions posing a challenge for Fernando, our mechanics and engineers. However, the rain allowed us to test a number of different configurations, during which we collected a lot of valuable data to support set-up for the next couple of grands prix before the summer break.”
Dave Redding, McLaren-Honda team manager
We hope that one lesson the team has taken away from this is that anyone can have the desired pace in the right circumstances. If you’ve found a way to modify your mechanics so that a weather condition is ordinarily an obstacle becomes a boon, you know that you’ll soon be reaching the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel. A healthy dose of self-belief is as good a fuel as any to close the gap.