McLaren will be looking at clocking up some significant mileage in this week’s final in-season test of the 2015 Formula 1 season following a nightmare Austrian Grand Prix which was over for the team within the first eight laps of the race.
After changing a multitude of elements in their respective Honda power units during the weekend, both Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button were given a combined 45-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race at the Red Bull Ring.
Neither driver had qualified well and that meant they couldn’t take the full grid drop, which then amounted to having to each serve a pit lane penalty in the opening laps of the race.
That did little more than render the race to be an extended test session – a perhaps valuable outcome given the team’s horror season – where the team had hoped to compare its new bodywork design (fitted to Alonso’s car only) against the original concepts being run on Button’s car.
Hopes of even being able to achieve that were over before the race was 10 laps in: Alonso was taken out on the opening lap by Kimi Räikkönen’s wayward Ferrari, while Button retired on Lap 8 with an electrical problem.
“It was going to be a race in which we would have run at the back, but we couldn’t do a single lap,” Alonso lamented when he returned to the paddock after his crash.
“Jenson also retired and I would have done the race by myself without any comparison, so anyway, a pretty bad weekend for us in terms of information.”
“Nothing was broken on my car, but something was wrong – and the switch-changes didn’t make any difference,” Button added afterwards, confirming that the team had retired him for precautionary reasons to avoid further damage to his Honda power unit.
“We’d fitted a brand new engine this weekend, and we didn’t want to unnecessarily damage it, so we decided to stop.”
Both drivers will look to this week’s two-day test, starting on Tuesday, as an opportunity to conduct further analysis on the MP4-30’s raft of new components ahead of the team’s home race at Silverstone in two weeks’ time. Driving duties at the test will be shared between Alonso and the team’s reserve driver Stoffel Vandoorne.
Images via McLaren Media Centre