Dutch GP: McLaren have ‘work to do’ ahead of qualifying

Dutch GP: McLaren have ‘work to do’ ahead of qualifying

McLaren need to dial in the MCL35M in order to gain more pace and consistency ahead of Saturday’s qualifying session at the Dutch GP.

McLaren didn’t set the world on fire during Friday’s practice sessions at the Dutch GP. Hampered by red flags in both sessions, track time was limited. Drastically reducing the chance for drivers to get accustomed to a track that hasn’t seen Formula 1 racing in 36 years.

FP1 was cut short considerably after the on track failure of Sebastian Vettel’s Aston Martin. With drivers making a mad dash at the end of session in an attempt to try and get in the last few remaining laps.

This resulted in several close calls as cars scrambled around the track. Including McLaren’s Lando Norris, who was pushed wide by Alpine’s Esteban Ocon.

“A tough first day. It was tricky with the traffic and difficult to get laps in with the red flags and stoppages,” Norris said. “It began with a good feeling with the car, and we weren’t too bad, but we’ve got some work to do to be able to consistently get good laps in during qualifying, which I’m sure we can do. A decent day but work to do overnight.”

FP1 saw Norris and teammate Daniel Ricciardo come in 11th and 14th. While FP2 saw Norris rise up to eighth, with Ricciardo dropping down the order to 15th.

Zandvoort was always likely going to be a track that the MCL35M struggled with during some sections of the circuit. McLaren’s car really comes to life on those high-speed tracks, such as the upcoming Monza. Whereas tracks that involve more tight twists and turns such as Monaco, have been more difficult for the MCL35M to navigate.

“This track’s cool, it’s a lot of fun! I definitely enjoyed that,” Ricciardo said. “This morning I was relatively comfortable, this afternoon not so. We tried some things on the car that, in hindsight, I don’t think were the right direction. But, that’s what free practice is for. It made FP2 a little more tricky, but we’ll go back and learn from that.

“I think we’ll still be in good shape tomorrow, but today we were just a little bit off in FP2. There are some quick cars out there, so we’ve got our work cut out for us, but it’s a fun track and I’m really enjoying it.”

McLaren will need to further refine the setup of their cars during FP3 to stay in contention for qualifying. Zandvoort may well be like Monaco, in the fact that overtaking is going to be difficult. With the need to qualify well inside the top 10 more important than ever.

The team’s closest competitors, Ferrari, had a strong FP2. With Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz making it a 1-2 finish for the Scuderia.