McLaren racing director Eric Boullier admits his team is “not expecting miracles” at this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix, but is confident it has resolved a number of reliability issues.
The early stages of the new Renault partnership proved tricky for McLaren, with the team suffering from poor reliability throughout pre-season testing and finishing with the least mileage of all ten teams on the grid. Despite that, the car showed good pace on the final day in Barcelona to raise hopes for a strong showing in Melbourne, and Boullier says there has been a major focus on having a reliable enough car to show that performance at the opening race.
“A new season, and a new chapter for McLaren in 2018,” Boullier said. “With the many developments within our team over the past six months or so, it brings me great excitement and pride to see everything coming together and the new McLaren Renault MCL33 hitting the track in Melbourne.
“We didn’t have the reliability we had hoped for in winter testing, but all the issues we faced have since been addressed back at the factory. There’s a huge amount of work going on behind the scenes to ensure we leave no stone unturned in our quest to extract the maximum pace we can from our new package from the first race.
“We’re not expecting miracles to be worked overnight – far from it – but what we do know is that we’ll give it our all this weekend.”
Fernando Alonso set McLaren’s fastest time towards the end of testing, and says the lack of certainty over where the team sits in the pecking order is adding to the anticipation ahead of Sunday’s race.
“Our car showed a lot of potential in winter testing and, although we know we still have a lot to work on, we’ve already learned a lot about the package and how all the new elements to this year’s car work together,” Alonso said. “Australia is its first real test, and we need to work hard all weekend to bring all the ingredients together.
“Nobody can ever predict how other teams will perform at the first race of the season and that all contributes to the excitement. Melbourne is a great track and, after what feels like a long winter, I’m really looking forward to seeing what we can do.”