Fernando Alonso says McLaren has found over a second since the Australian Grand Prix following Friday practice in Malaysia.
McLaren was comfortably off the pace in Australia, with Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen qualifying on the back row of the grid. However, the first two practice sessions at Sepang saw McLaren close to Force India and within three seconds of the fastest time.
Asked if the car had been better than expected, Alonso replied: “Much better.
“The experience that we had in winter it was a lot of problems after four or five laps, but today we ran 45 laps with zero problems, everything went as we predicted. We will see in qualifying, but I think we were 4.6 seconds behind pole position in Australia, here maybe we could be 3.5 seconds, so that is a 1 second or 1.5 second gain in two weeks. So a big step forward.”
Returning to drive the MP4-30 for the first time since his accident in pre-season testing, Alonso says he is glad to be back in the car but admits his fitness is lacking slightly.
“It felt great today in the car. Finally after the gym, after the simulator, whatever you do it is not the same as the car, so I enjoyed so much driving here. The conditions are obviously extreme and very hot, so physically it is very demanding and I am not 100 per cent physically and fit after two weeks on the sofa and then two weeks not in the car.
“It was really the second day of testing for me because I have one good day in Barcelona with 63 laps and then today with 45 laps. The rest of the days were 7, 9, 11 laps… so today I really enjoyed it. A step forward, a big step forward for us.”
Click here for Friday’s gallery from the Malaysian Grand Prix
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