McLaren Japan nightmare ‘does hurt’ – Bird

McLaren’s Sam Bird openly conceded that failing to score a point last weekend in Tokyo “hurt”, with the outfit having entered the huge event on the back of winning in São Paulo.

The Woking-based outfit entered the inaugural Tokyo E-Prix full of confidence, after Bird secured the team’s first victory in Formula E in Brazil.

Many even expected McLaren to be competitive once again, only for it to be a weekend to forget. Bird struggled in qualifying and started from the back of the grid, before going on to retire in the race.

“It was a challenging day for everyone at the NEOM McLaren Formula E Team,” said Bird. “Not scoring any points does hurt, especially when you’ve worked so hard.

“Having said that, we have collected valuable data. We’ve learnt a lot during this event, which will help make us stronger looking forward.

“We’ll use next week to re-group, and the aim is to be strong and competitive again when we get to Italy.”

‘We already understand the issue’

On the other side of the McLaren garage, Jake Hughes’ fortunes were not much better.

The British driver encountered an issue during qualifying which impacted his starting position, although the fault was “immediately” understood.

Hughes actually felt very good during the race but could only salvage P13, three places better than where he started.

Despite the disappointment after the highs of Brazil, Hughes stressed to McLaren that they must carry their São Paulo confidence forwards.

“Today was a difficult day. In the race itself, I felt quite competitive, but in Qualifying we were lacking in performance,” Hughes said.

“However, immediately afterwards, the initial thoughts and data suggested we already understand the issue. It’s going to be a key focus for us now in the lead-up to the next race in Misano – especially as it was Qualifying that compromised us today.

“As I said to the team on the radio after the race; we came into this week with a positive and focused mindset, and we need to make sure we carry this into the next round so we can bounce back.”


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