Stoffel Vandoorne believes that the McLaren-Honda MP4-31 car is now “better in every area” since his previous run in the Bahrain Grand Prix six weeks ago.
Vandoorne was drafted in to replace the injured Fernando Alonso in Bahrain before going on to finish 10th on his Formula 1 debut.
The 2015 GP2 champion got back behind the wheel of the McLaren in Barcelona on Wednesday on the second of two days of post-race testing, and said that the improvements made by McLaren were very noticeable.
“The car felt good straight away today,” Vandoorne said.
“Of course, I had a few laps of adjusting to the car, but it definitely has progressed since I raced it in Bahrain. It’s been a positive and productive day.
“Although it’s easier to get into the car having experienced a full race weekend, there is always a need to readjust for F1, especially after racing in Super Formula, but I quickly got used to it.
“The car feels better in every area, with downforce feeling much improved compared to Bahrain.
“As a racing driver, you want to spend as much time as possible in the car, but I try and optimize every moment I have, and I feel like I’ve had the chance to do that today.
“All in all, the progress with the car is good, so I’m happy.”
The knee injury that kept Malcolm Stewart from mounting up for Anaheim 2 will require surgery and he will be sidelined for “an extended duration” of the Monster Energy Supercross season, according to the Rockstar Energy Husqvarna team.
“I just wanted to give you guys an update,” Stewart said on Instagram. “It’s not the news you guys want to hear, but I took a spill last week and hurt my knee pretty bad to the point that we’re going to have to get surgery done.
“I’m definitely bummed out about it; I felt we were riding pretty good and were just now starting to get the ball rolling, but it is what it is.”
Stewart’s season started with high expectations until accidents in the first two rounds left him 15th in the standings.
He ended 2022 on a high note, finishing a career high third in the Supercross standings. He then missed the start of the Pro Motocross season with another knee injury.
The 2023 season appeared to live up to his expectations. Despite back-to-back accidents, Stewart contended for podiums at both Anaheim 1 and San Diego. He won his heat at San Diego.
“It was very tough to receive the news that Malcolm will need to undergo knee surgery,” Nathan Ramsey, Team Manager for the Husqvarna team said in a press release. “He has worked so hard to be in a position to win races this year and I truly believe he was ready.
“The Rockstar Energy Husqvarna Factory Racing program will support him in every way that we can through his recovery and we can’t wait to get him back on track and back at the races.”
Stewart joins 250 rider Jalek Swoll on the sidelines after he broke an arm in a practice session. Swoll will be relieved by Talon Hawkins beginning this week at Houston, Texas.
A replacement rider has not been announced for Stewart, which means the focus shifts to his 450 teammate Christian Craig, who currently sits 12th in the standings with three top-15s in the opening rounds.