Vodafone McLaren Mercedes seeks a reboot to its 2013 Formula 1 season starting next week at China.
Team principal Martin Whitmarsh, stating the obvious, said the first two races of the season “fell below the high standards we’ve come to expect.” Still, with the break since Malaysia, Whitmarsh is optimistic the team has made the necessary car improvements to move higher up the grid.
“However, the three-week break between rounds two and three has been a useful one; we have been fully engaged in further developing our understanding of the MP4-28 and are confident of being able to implement a number of changes this weekend that will widen its operating window and, potentially, improve its performance,” Whitmarsh told Autosport.
Jenson Button has already said a championship charge is still possible despite the lackluster start, given he nearly scored a podium in Malaysia despite the car’s deficiencies.
“In a funny way, the Chinese Grand Prix almost feels like something of a reboot of the start of my season,” he said.
Both Button and Sergio Perez have a best finish of ninth in two races.
Will Power posted the fastest lap in the third practice session for the Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Ala. with a speed of 122.953 mph.
Rookie Robert Wickens (122.552 mph) was second fast, foretelling a continuation of his incredible rookie season.
Scott Dixon (122.237), Ryan Hunter-Reay (122.231) and Alexander Rossi (122.106) rounded out the top five.
The practice was interrupted several times for incidents.
Ed Jones spun off track in turn five after locking up his brakes with 30 minutes remaining in practice three. He was able to drive back to the pits under his own power.
With 20 minutes still on the clock, Jordan King took a trip into the fence after posting a fastest lap of 121.753 mph. He sustained substantial left side damage to his car and came back to the pits on the hook.
“I’m annoyed really,” King said afterward on the live stream at IndyCar.com. “I slightly locked the inside front, then just stayed off onto the grass and that was it. But I wasn’t really even pushing that hard.”
With two minutes remaining, Charlie Kimball lost power and pulled off the track, bringing an end to the practice session.
Dixon also had an off-road excursion.