Fernando Alonso managed 45 laps of running on his return to the cockpit in Friday’s two practice sessions for the Malaysian Grand Prix, finishing 16th-fastest in the second session.

The Spaniard declared himself pleased with the progress that the team and Honda have made in improving the car and power unit respectively. He had not driven the car since he crashed out of the second pre-season test last month and sustained a concussion injury that kept him from racing at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix a fortnight ago.

“Today really feels like the second day of testing for me – I had one solid day’s running in Barcelona during the winter, when I did 63 laps, and I managed 45 today,” he said afterwards.

“Plus, we ran with zero problems – so that’s an important step. We are improving the aero package, gaining a greater understanding of the power unit, and we also have better interaction between everyone working on the car. Every lap is a learning curve for us.

“The car feels consistent and easy to drive, and it’s giving me the confidence to push it to the limit. We had some issues with braking consistency today, but we should be able to resolve those overnight. I feel great – I enjoyed today so much.”

Teammate Jenson Button finished one spot behind Alonso on the FP2 timesheets and was also encouraged by the relative progress the team had made since the previous race in Melbourne.

“A lot of people made mistakes – there’s very low grip out there – so the feeling inside the car isn’t as good as it was in Melbourne, but our overall pace over a single lap and over a long run is a little closer to the cars ahead of us, [and] that’s a step forward,” the 2009 World Champion said.

“We learned a lot today about the engine; we have a bit more power, although we’re still learning about driveability in some areas.”

Image via McLaren Media Centre

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.