McLaren makes the most of wet Suzuka practice

© Getty Images

McLaren made the most of Friday’s washout at Suzuka by conducting a number of reliability tests as it continues to iron out the problems in its Honda power unit.

Since rejoining forces with Honda at the beginning of 2015, McLaren’s hopes of returning to the front of the Formula 1 field have been blighted by a number of issues with the power unit.

Drivers Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button have been limited to just four points finishes in total so far this season, with their most recent chance of a top ten finish in Singapore being lost thanks to another technical issue.

With heavy rain hitting Suzuka on Friday and leaving the track wet for both FP1 and FP2, most of the teams ran a shortened practice programme and turned their attention to FP3 on Saturday when conditions are expected to be dry and sunny.

However, McLaren opted to make the most of the three hours of running as both Alonso and Button completed some tests to ensure that the problems from Singapore had not carried over to Japan.

“This wasn’t too much of an important day,” Alonso said. “The conditions for tomorrow and Sunday look to be dry, so today’s running probably wasn’t too representative. Nevertheless, we ran some reliability tests in order to try to understand the problems we experienced in Singapore.

“Now those checks are done, we’ll maximise our efforts ahead of FP3 tomorrow – that’ll be the only opportunity we’ll have before qualifying to push hard on a dry track.”

McLaren racing director Eric Boullier is anticipating another tough weekend for McLaren as the long straights at Suzuka work against the Honda power unit, but is pleased to see the grandstands filled with fans cheering the team on.

“We know that this will be another challenging weekend, but we’re buoyed and heartened by the groundswell of support from an incredibly enthusiastic and passionate bunch of Japanese fans,” Boullier said.

“Their innovative and creative ways of supporting and promoting McLaren-Honda is really breathtaking, and it’s given the whole team additional motivation for this race.

“For everybody out there in the rain, loyally waving a McLaren-Honda flag, wearing a McLaren-Honda T-shirt, or sporting a homemade McLaren-Honda DRS flap-adjustable helmet, you’re all part of the bigger McLaren-Honda family, and we’ll do our very best to give you something to cheer about this weekend.”