“The support this weekend has been fantastic”
Suzuka Circuit, Friday September 25
Wet conditions made progress difficult at Suzuka today. Overnight showers eased only slightly before the start of FP1, then returned with a vengeance for much of the rest of the day, meaning that both sessions required the deeper, Full Wet tyre for the majority of running. While Intermediates made brief appearances in both sessions, the conditions quickly worsened, making it too wet to safely run without a Full Wet.
Jenson complained of a handling imbalance throughout the day, and was also hampered by a number of unrelated issues. An engine problem at the very end of FP1 prompted an ICE change on Fernando’s car during the lunchbreak, with the Spaniard sitting out the first half of the session while the mechanics repaired his car. The mechanics fitted a pre-run engine, meaning that he will not suffer an engine penalty for the switch.
The wet weather made running pretty inconclusive for the whole day, so we’ll return afresh and optimistic for tomorrow.
#14 Fernando Alonso
FP1 No time
FP2 1m55.239s (+6.962s) 10 laps 17th
“This wasn’t too much of an important day – 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.
“The support here this weekend has been fantastic. Suzuka is the home grand prix for Honda, and this is the best place in the world for fans. We have such a lot of support, so hopefully we can give them something back on Sunday.”
#22 Jenson Button
FP1 1m55.678s (+6.244s) 6 laps 12th
FP2 1m51.861s (+3.584s) 9 laps 12th
“We had very limited running today, mainly just conducting systems checks and making sure the aero worked properly in the wet. In the afternoon, we did some PU work, too.
“The balance needs a bit of work, but we think it’s going to be dry for the rest of the weekend anyway.
“I was glad to see a lot of cars out there today – there were a lot of fans sat out in the pouring rain, so at least they got to see a bit of a show.”
Racing director, McLaren-Honda
“It’s difficult to make any clear assessments of our pace after such an inconclusive pair of practice sessions – particularly as neither Fernando nor Jenson ran representatively during the driest parts of each session.
“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. 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.”
Honda R&D senior managing officer - chief officer of motorsport
“The excitement to be racing again in Japan of course puts added pressure on our team. Unfortunately, the weather was not in the paddock's favour today, so throughout both FP1 and FP2 sessions, we were limited to just confirming the fundamental data of the power unit.
“We had a slight issue with Fernando's power unit at the end of FP1, which we believe to be fuel-related, but we decided to change the unit completely as we had little time to analyse before FP2. The details are still under investigation, but the quick decision-making and teamwork in the garage was admirable as usual.
“The weather is looking to improve for tomorrow, therefore we expect a very busy session during FP3 to set up the car. We will do our best to be ready for qualifying and the race.”