This was Jenson’s first day with the MP4-26. As yesterday, when Lewis drove the car for the first time, the morning was largely spent acclimatising to the new car, finding a perfect fit and making small improvements to driver ergonomics and comfort.
After another lunchtime strip-down, the engineers began a more concerted programme of running in the afternoon – albeit one punctuated by several lengthy red-flag stoppages.
At the end of the day, the team evaluated a number of further set-up changes, leaving Jenson – like Lewis - feeling positive about the 26’s potential. These changes will be further pursued when Jenson returns to the car on Sunday.
Jenson said: “The morning was spent getting me satisfactorily fitted in the car, adapting to the hybrid – which is new to me – and getting used to how the system works. I like the power boost it gives you. I felt a lot more comfortable with the car at the end of the day after we’d played around with a few things in the cockpit. We’ve made some good progress.
“And we’ve tried the different Pirelli tyres – there are big differences across the compound range; not only in terms of laptime, but also with degradation and durability. It’s going to be fun for racing, I think, and it’s what everyone wanted. The TV viewers will certainly know the differences between the tyres. It’s been a good first day. On Sunday, I hope we can start to have a crack at seeing what the car really has in it.
Track length: 4.423km
Weather: Another warm and sunny day. Maximum ambient temperature 18.9°C, maximum track temperature 32.2°C
Laps completed: 69
Kilometres covered: 256km
Best laptime: 1m21.009s at 15:22