McLaren puts in overtime during Barcelona test to get things right for season

(Getty Images)
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McLaren Honda has to be hoping that the more you do in preseason testing can translate to potentially better outcomes during the Formula One season.

During last year’s first preseason test at Jerez, McLaren didn’t even reach 80 laps over four days of work.

But in the first two days of testing at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, McLaren has already more than doubled last year’s output, exceeding 200 test laps.

After Jenson Button handled Monday’s practice session, Fernando Alonso piloted the McLaren MP4-31 Honda  on Tuesday, covering 119 laps in his first day of running this year.

Both drivers focused on data gathering, systems and electronics checks, evaluation of engine modes, and preliminary tests of the 2016 aero package.

“We had a good day with regard to reliability again,” McLaren-Honda director of Engineering Matt Morris said in a media release. “Enjoying two days with no serious reliability issues has been a real positive.

“We completed everything we had planned for our program for today, and a little bit more besides, so, overall, another very positive day of running under our belts.”

Added Satoshi Nakamura, chief engineer for Honda R&D Co, “Today’s testing target was to do continuous laps at a steady pace so we could gauge the harvest and deployment of the power unit, and perform all energy management system checks.

“Thanks to the team’s hard work and Fernando’s focus in the cockpit, the 119 laps on track gave us plenty of feedback to finish today’s planned running program early. I am pleased to say that we will have lots of data to look through tonight and tomorrow onwards.”

The day also saw a managerial change within Honda, with Yasuhira Arai replaced by Yusuke Hasegawa.

Button is due to go back behind the wheel for additional testing on Wednesday. The four-day test concludes on Thursday.

TUESDAY’S UNOFFICIAL TESTING TIMES

1 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1m22.810s 126 laps
2 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1m23.525s 112 laps
3 Sergio Perez Force India 1m23.650s 101 laps
4 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m24.867s 172 laps
5 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 1m25.237s 108 laps
6 Esteban Gutierrez Haas 1m25.524s 79 laps
7 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1m25.648s 134 laps
8 Pascal Wehrlein Manor 1m25.925s 71 laps
9 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1m26.082s 119 laps
10 Jolyon Palmer Renault 1m26.189s 42 laps
11 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso 1m26.539s 121 laps

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Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 3 p.m. to USA Network.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III