B ahrain has always been a bad place for McLaren in recent years. The McLaren drivers only qualified for the back rows of the grid on the ground from which the most potent financiers come. This time the faces in the McLaren camp were much happier. Lando Norris' 8th starting position in Melbourne was a bit of a sensation. Starting positions 6 and 9 in Bahrain are now the confirmation. Things are looking up with McLaren. Andreas Seidl, future team boss, observed the positive development as a still neutral spectator with goodwill. Carlos Sainz and Lando Norris made it into the top ten on the grid with relative ease.
A secret of the McLaren was their strong performance on the straights. The top speed wasn't noticeable, but on the way there the papaya-yellow cars made up a lot of time on their opponents. Four tenths on the HaasF1 alone. Time was lost again in the corners. This clearly speaks in favor of less downforce, because the Renault engine has not suddenly become more powerful than a Ferrari engine. Carlos Sainz nevertheless believes that the first championship points will be within reach on Sunday: “The race pace is dictated by the position on the track and the wear and tear on the tires. We were not so bad at the long runs. ”
What will Alonso think?
Sainz recalled that McLaren was still at the end of midfield at the 2018 season finale in Abu Dhabi. 'This time we fought for the top spot in this package of cars with HaasF1.' However, you have to admit that the starting position in the extremely narrow midfield is also determined by luck and bad luck. “We could have lost both cars in Q1. Kimi would have the midfield just as wellbe able to lead ”, said Sauber team boss Frédéric Vasseur.
McLaren did everything right in training. The aero package had an impact. The modifications to the front wing and baffles brought a tenth. 'In this narrow field you are grateful for any improvement,' said McLaren Sports Director Gil de Ferran. The progress shows that the direction is right. And that you are in the process of understanding the problems that the MCL34 still brings with it. “The car has improved since the test drives,” says Norris, but he adds, “There are still a few characteristics that we need to work on. We're far from perfect. ”
What would Fernando Alonso think, given the McLaren's good shape? The Spaniard had to eat dust for four years, and as soon as he's gone, the cars learn to run. Alonso was fully wired as an observer in the box during the final training session. Has he already regretted his resignation? “You have to ask Fernando that,” de Ferran refuses to answer. “We are happy that Alonso is part of our family and that he will test our car next week. That can only be helpful. “'> Motorsport Images