Button experiencing fewer balance issues with MP4-28

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Jenson Button has revealed that the McLaren MP4-28 is proving to be less problematic thanks to the new upgrades, although he is unsure of just how great the improvement will be at this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix.

“I don’t think that you will see a leap that far to the front right now but the good news is today we’ve experienced far fewer issues with the balance,” Button said in an interview with the official Formula One website. “Of course the aim is to move forward with every race and I would say that we’ve definitely are moving further to the front. The downside is: everybody else has too.”

The 2009 world champion finished FP2 in 12th place after having failed to set a time in the first practice session, and he was not prepared to be too bold over the advances made by the team over the three week break.

“That is hard to say as we had rather limited running,” Button said when asked about the improvements made. “Doing only six laps with no time in the morning, so we didn’t have the new front wing on the car and I am not sure if we will this weekend. This evening we have to go through a lot of data to see what is working and what is not – what in the end will help the balance.”

After a difficult start to the season, a strong upgrade package is exactly what McLaren were looking to bring to this weekend’s race. Although the results may not light up the timing screens, the verdict from the drivers is that progress is being made.

Fernando Alonso completes first test with United Autosports

Photo: United Autosports
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Two-time Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso enjoyed his first outing with United Autosports, with whom he will contest the 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona, in their Ligier JS P217 LMP2 chassis.

The McLaren Formula 1 driver completed the test at Motorland Aragon in Spain alongside co-driver Phil Hanson, who will be a teammate with Alonso at next year’s 24-hour Daytona enduro. Filipe Albuquerque, a former GT class winner at the Rolex 24, was also on hand to help Alonso and the team ahead of Alonso’s first run in an LMP2 car, which comes only a couple days after he made his LMP1 testing debut with Toyota. Albuquerque races with Mustang Sampling Racing in IMSA, but will return to United’s European Le Mans Series program for all but one race in 2018.

“I had a great first test with United Autosports. Obviously, we are on a really tight schedule between now and Daytona, but it was nice to jump in the car for the first time,” said Alonso, who will rejoin the team at the official Roar Before the 24 test on January 5-7.

Alonso added, “There’s quite a few switches and things to study so it was important to do this initial shakedown before Daytona, so I could fully learn about the car. I’m happy with everything – the car felt great and the team were fantastic. The atmosphere here is wonderful, like a big family, so today has been amazing. I cannot wait for Daytona.”

Team owner Zak Brown, who also serves as executive director of McLaren Technology Group and helps lead the McLaren Formula 1 effort, shared Alonso’s enthusiasm and was not surprised he was able to acclimate himself relatively quickly.

“Fernando’s first test with United Autosports went awesome as expected. He is a world champion and it is a pleasure to have him in our car,” he said of Alonso’s debut with the team.

Alonso is currently schedule to contest the Rolex 24 with the aforementioned Hanson and McLaren test driver Lando Norris.