Under Friday's blazing desert sun and in 39 degrees, the team executed planned set-up changes on both cars between runs during the first practice session of the day. A floor change on Stoffel’s car and a rear wing change on Fernando’s car meant they completed 10 and 14 laps respectively.
Despite the stop-start nature of the session, both cars ran strongly – Fernando clocking the eighth-fastest time, and Stoffel the 13th. Unfortunately, Stoffel suffered an MGU-H issue at the end of the session, curtailing his running and, in the interests of time, necessitating a full PU change, in order to get Stoffel out on track for FP2.
In FP2, the team experienced contrasting fortunes. Fernando’s session ran smoothly and exactly to his run plan, and he completed 31 laps, which included high-fuel running in preparation for race day.
On Stoffel’s side of the garage, the team did a sterling job after FP1 to get Stoffel back on track – his MCL32 fitted with a new PU – 40 minutes into the second practice session. Unfortunately, after his second run, the engineers detected a problem with his MGU-H that put an end to his programme for the day. The team will now replace this element in time for tomorrow’s running.
During FP3, the air temperatures peaked at 35 degrees and track temperatures at 40. Both sides of the McLaren-Honda garage enjoyed a trouble-free session, completing runs on alternate set-up configurations and practising pitstops mid-session. Fernando completed 10 laps, clocking the 12th-fastest time, and Stoffel 15 laps, setting the 15th-fastest time.