For once this season, McLaren had an encouraging Friday and Jenson Button hopes they will be able to replicate that come qualifying day in Singapore.
The Woking squad have generally been close to the bottom of the timesheets during the first two practice sessions this season, but Fernando Alonso was eighth fastest in FP2 at the Marina Bay Circuit while Button was 14th.
After running with an older spec engine in his MP4-30, Button is optimistic about his and McLaren’s chances on Saturday.
“My day was okay, but it’s always tricky to get a balance at this place,” he said. “There were a few issues that we had on the lower-fuel runs; we just didn’t have the right balance at all.
“I think Fernando had a reasonable balance – we were on a different spec of engine today. I was running on an older spec of engine at the end of its life. We should be able to find more performance tomorrow – hopefully we’ll be up where Fernando was today, and then you have a good fight on our hands to try to get into Q3.
“On our long-run pace, the first three teams are so fast, a couple of seconds quicker than the rest. So we’ll do the best we can tomorrow and Sunday and see where we stand. I’m looking forward to it though. It’s going to be much more exciting than the last two races were, because at least we’re in the fight here. I think we’ll be in the middle of the pack, hopefully.”
Following their double points finish in Hungary, McLaren have struggled in Belgium and Italy, but racing director Eric Boullier admits they are all positive ahead of qualifying.
“Without wishing to over-promise, I would nonetheless describe today’s running as encouraging,” he said. “We finished the day in eighth and 14th positions, Fernando’s best lap just 0.8s slower than the fastest of the day.
“Also, we managed to get plenty of laps completed, without any reliability issues of any kind all day, so we’ve now got a great deal of data to work on tonight, with a view to approaching tomorrow’s qualifying in a positive frame of mind.”