Red Bull drivers expecting a tight race on Sunday

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Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber are both pleased with their efforts in today’s practice for the Spanish Grand Prix, despite having lost most of the first session due to wet weather.

This lack of running made testing the new upgrades particularly difficult, but defending champion Vettel believes that this was not too great an issue due to the regulations.

“We have some new parts here but the days of big, big upgrades don’t really happen now with the regulations how they are,” Vettel explained in a team statement. “This afternoon was fairly conclusive, but this morning wasn’t really much good with the weather.”

Despite many drivers suffering from high wear on their Pirellis and Paul di Resta experiencing a tire failure, Vettel does not believe that the strategy taken will be too different to that of recent races.

“It’s hard to say much about the harder tire, I think the number of pit stops will be the same here in this race as at the last few.”

2010 race winner Mark Webber believes that the grand prix will be a tight one, and practice suggested that Ferrari would be challenging Red Bull in Spain this weekend.

“It looks reasonably tight,” Webber said. “We couldn’t have got more out of it today really, the weather made things a bit tricky, but it was a pretty good day overall.”

Red Bull will be pleased to have topped FP2 so resoundingly ahead of Ferrari, but Fernando Alonso’s home crowd could spur him on to challenge both Vettel and Webber during the race on Sunday. With one win apiece in Spain, the Red Bull duo will be keen on doubling their tallies as they look to seize the upper hand in both championships.

McLaren unveils 2018 F1 car, the MCL33

Photo: Getty Images
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McLaren F1 Team became the latest to launch their 2018 challenger on Friday, taking the covers off their new MCL33 chassis early on Friday morning.

McLaren endured a difficult 2017 season of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship, with their partnership with Honda eventually dissolving after a troublesome power unit saw them plagued by unreliability and low power.

A switch to Renault power units is expected to see them get an uptick in form, and the MCL33 chassis itself is actually an evolution on last year’s MCL32. Still, the team highlighted areas to improve upon, and aims for a return to prominence in 2018.

“The McLaren team was created by a brave pioneer, and has had bravery at its core ever since. Whether it’s been with brave drivers, brave leaders or brave fortune, this team has always fought back. And we definitely view 2018 as the year when McLaren will move closer to the front, fighting teams and drivers as we improve our fortunes,” said Zak Brown, executive director of McLaren Technology Group.

Brown also highlighted the car’s new papaya orange livery, a throwback to some of the most popular color schemes that have adorned McLaren entrants in a variety of disciplines. Brown indicated that this came about from requests of fans who wanted to see such a livery return to the McLaren marque.

“Our return to a papaya orange livery for this year wasn’t simply an emotional decision; it demonstrates that we are listening to our fans, building deeper engagement with them and the Formula 1 community as a whole. We want McLaren to earn respect on and off the track, and this felt like a good starting point. We want to show everyone what makes this team special, whether that’s our fans or our partners – there’s room for more on our journey.”

The team’s racing director Eric Boullier expressed optimism about the team’s potential for 2018, but also acknowledged the season will be sure to see its fair share of challenges.

“I think the whole team feels proud of this car,” he asserted. “The design, engineering and aerodynamic departments have done an incredible job delivering a new car with a new power unit in an extremely short timeframe. We never took the easy route or looked to shortcut a process or a solution; and the result is a car that is neat and well-resolved.

“That said, we are under no illusions that it will be difficult to splinter the hegemony at the front; and that the midfield will be full of well-funded, experienced outfits with plenty to prove. We are humble about the challenge ahead, but feel we’ve prepared well, have a solid package that we can build upon and exploit as the season progresses, and have two excellent drivers who will make the difference in races.”

The MCL33 took to the track on Friday for filming at a test track in Spain, and will be run in anger for the first time when testing begins next week at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

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