Although McLaren drivers Button and Hamilton were quite a bit off the pace of the Red Bull cars today, both of them are happy with their car so far. Small further improvements should be enough to handle the Red Bulls and fight for the victory on Sunday.
Jenson Button, MP4-25A-01:
P1: 12 laps, 1m55.333s (+0.744s), 6th
P2: 28 laps, 1m47.690s (+1.030s), 3rd
“We got some reasonable running during P2, and the car is working quite well. There are still some improvements we need to make, but I feel comfortable with it.
“We saw today that, after it rains, the track doesn’t dry very quickly, and a lot of water comes up through the circuit. It’s pretty tricky – it’s difficult to see which parts of the track are wet because of the glare. Hopefully, we won’t have any more rain this weekend, because wet conditions aren’t the nicest to drive in.
“Our long-run pace looks good, but it’s so tough around here on high fuel – we’ve never run this level of fuel around here before.
“Qualifying tomorrow will be all about finding track space – if you hit traffic, you’ve got to still keep pushing, especially in Q1, when the circuit will be at its busiest.”
Lewis Hamilton, MP4-25A-02:
P1: 9 laps, 1m56.884s (+2.295s), 18th
P2: 28 laps, 1m47.818s (+1.158s), 5th
“The track was very tricky today because there were wet patches in some areas, but it was quite a good session for us. We’re reasonably close; we’re competitive; there’s more time for us to find tomorrow; so I’m optimistic.
“In fact I think we’ll be able to compete with the guys who were at the front today. The Red Bulls definitely aren’t unbeatable here. Okay, they’re very quick in the second and third sectors, so we’ll have to work hard to try to make up time there, but I’m pretty confident we can do it.
“Finally, I think the changes made to the track have made it worse – and the chicane is now very tricky. You approach it at 170mph – and if something goes wrong, and you hit one of those kerbs, then you could have a nasty accident.”
Martin Whitmarsh, Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes:
“This afternoon’s shower showed, for the first time, that this circuit is likely to be very challenging in the wet – the track doesn’t dry out very rapidly and, as we saw this evening, certain parts of the track don’t drain very efficiently. That meant some corners were still damp long after the rest of the track had dried. Coupled with the fact that visibility under the strip lighting makes it hard for the drivers to see where the circuit is drying, a race in wet conditions could be extremely challenging.
“While today’s lap-times suggest that our competitors may have an advantage, there’s still plenty of data to be combed through tonight. In particular, our long-run pace looks encouraging, so our aim for tomorrow is to ensure that our car’s speed over a single lap is optimised for what’s likely to be a rather tricky qualifying session.
“Initial analysis suggests that our upgrades have worked successfully, but we still need to look over the data in more detail in order to gain a greater understanding of our overall competitiveness ahead of tomorrow.”