McLaren-Honda ready to race away from Q1 image

Apr.11 (GMM/ McLaren-Honda might already be leaping into the F1 midfield.

Initially dead-last in 2015, upbeat members of the new Anglo-Japanese collaboration have insisted much of the progress made in recent weeks has been invisible publicly.

But the cat might be out of the bag in China.

“I was looking for Alonso’s name in the times and couldn’t find it,” Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg, 16th on Friday, said after practice in Shanghai.

“I see that they are suddenly far ahead of us,” the German is quoted by Auto Motor und Sport.

Indeed, Fernando Alonso was twelfth in the second session, but teammate Jenson Button was as high as tenth.

Suddenly, getting out of Q1 seems not so high a mountain, Alonso admitted.

“It seems we are on the right track, approaching the group in the middle of the grid,” the Spaniard is quoted by El Mundo Deportivo.

“We did not expect to step forward here, so we are doubly happy,” he said.

“I think qualifying will be harder, as everyone can use a bit more power but that’s not something we can do yet,” Alonso explained.

“But Q2 is a real goal for us for this race.”

On the downside, poor reliability so far means that Alonso and Button have eaten into their allocation of ‘power units’ for 2015 more than any other drivers in the field.

“Penalties are inevitable,” Alonso acknowledged. “It is only a question of when, but that is just part of our learning curve at the moment.

“Let’s just try to learn from everything that is happening to us to find solutions and keep going,” he added.