McLaren drivers Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button remained upbeat despite both being forced to retire from today’s Malaysian Grand Prix due to problems with their power units.
Since joining forces with Honda at the beginning of the year, McLaren has encountered a number of problems with its new car, the MP4-30.
However, after finishing the Australian Grand Prix, the team headed to Malaysia with hopes of racking up more mileage and getting both cars to the line.
In his comeback race after missing the last month through injury, Fernando Alonso made a good start to fight with the Red Bull drivers at one point during the race, only to eventually retire after 21 laps due to an issue with his ERS.
The Spaniard was joined on the sidelines by Jenson Button 20 laps later when the Briton was told to retire due to a problem with his turbo.
Nevertheless, both drivers were happy with the team’s performance in Malaysia, and head to the next race in China full of optimism.
“I enjoyed it out there – we’re actually racing people,” Button said. “To be able to see one of the Red Bulls ahead of me – and so far into the race – was obviously a nice surprise.
“And we were able to mix it with the others a little bit more, too. Fighting in the pack is the most positive thing to take away from this weekend – hopefully, before too long, we can start to pick them off on a race-by-race basis.
“Today has been a useful day; it’s just a pity that both Fernando and I ended up finishing it early.”
As comebacks go, Alonso’s return in Malaysia was far from perfect, but the Spaniard believes that it went better than he had expected it to.
“This whole weekend has been better than I expected,” Alonso said. “The main positive to take away from today is the fact that we were able to run with other cars – Jenson and I weren’t simply fighting with each other. That was the first step we needed to take, and we’ve taken it already.
“Indeed, our race pace was surprisingly good. I was running with the pack, and I was even able to catch the Red Bulls before the pit-stops. That was a nice surprise.
“We still need a little more time to investigate the exact cause of my retirement. The team came over the radio to tell me to back off a little, to save the car, so I brought it back to the pits.”
For all of the team’s optimism, with another non-score, McLaren remains joint-last in the constructors’ championship alongside Lotus and Manor on zero points.