Stoffel Vandoorne has 'very positive' feeling about McLaren's car

MONTMELO, Spain -- McLaren started a recovery from its difficult start to the second winter test with a day Stoffel Vandoorne described as "very positive" on Thursday.

Vandoorne completed 151 laps -- well over two race distances of the Spanish Grand Prix host venue -- on the penultimate day of 2018's pre-season. The team had only accumulated a combined 95 over the previous two days after hitting several time-consuming issues with its car.

"Today was a very positive day for us, a lot of laps obviously," Vandoorne said. "This morning was good, we've been through a lot of set-up work, understanding about the tyre compounds, a lot of learning we've kind of missed a bit at the start of this week and also last week with the bad weather conditions so that was good to go through.

"This afternoon we've completed a full race distance which was nice to get all the laps under our belt, have a feel about the car in race conditions, go through different variation of tyres as well, I think it's been a very productive day, my last day in the car as well so now looking forward to Melbourne."

Vandoorne's quickest time of the day was set on Pirelli's new hyper-soft tyre, but was 1.7s down on Sebastian Vettel's new Circuit de Catalunya lap record of 1:17.182, a benchmark set on the same tyre. That time also put McLaren behind the quickest time set by the Renault factory team and Toro Rosso, powered by its former engine partner Honda.

However, the Belgian driver was quick to point out that the tests are more understanding the car's fundamentals ahead of the Australian Grand Prix, where the team will introduce a significant upgrade package.

"I think the feeling in the car is very positive, of course as a driver you always want to push the limit and exploit what is available. I think both myself and Fernando [Alonso] we've had very positive feeling in the car since the start of testing and today with the running we did that just confirmed my feeling, obviously there's a few areas we have to work on.

"Our car in Melbourne will be quite different, there will be a lot of updates coming, so everything we learned here we need to carry forward, learn about it, and the car or package we have in Melbourne will be quite different so we'll have to try and understand that there."

Fernando Alonso will return to the cockpit for the final day of testing Friday.