LEWIS HAMILTON P1 programme Lewis's first session was devoted to understanding and evaluating new aerodynamic components for MP4-24 -- principally a substantially revised floor section and matching top body. With modifications to the car ...
Lewis's first session was devoted to understanding and evaluating new aerodynamic components for MP4-24 -- principally a substantially revised floor section and matching top body. With modifications to the car carrying on into the first session, and with the morning's running briefly interrupted by a rain shower, Lewis completed just two runs (five laps/1m34.483s and four laps/1m35.945s) and ended P1 in 13th position.
"The car still lacks downforce," said Lewis afterwards, "but there's definitely been an improvement from the new parts we tried today."
More spots of rain delayed the start of Lewis's afternoon programme, but he still completed three runs, this time with the added benefit of the new FW5 front wing, recording runs of eight laps/1m33.059s (Primes), four laps/1m32.413s (Options) and three laps/1m32.149s (Options).
The engineers used this session to back-to-back the new front wing against the older iteration while also refining the balance of the new package over long runs.
Lewis said: "We've still got a long way to go but, most importantly, these new upgrades are pushing us in the right direction. It's a work in progress, but the guys back at the factory have done an incredible job to get these parts to the circuit -- I've even heard of one guy working a 36-hour non-stop shift to build these parts, which is incredible. Hopefully we'll now do our job at the track and try to keep everything moving forward. It's still early days, and we shouldn't get ahead of ourselves, but I'm hopeful of being able to get into Q3 tomorrow and look at scoring a couple of points on Sunday afternoon."
With Lewis using the team's single new bodywork kit, Heikki spent the morning performing back-to-back tests with the sole new FW5 front wing and the older iteration FW3C. A chilly start to the day and some patchy showers made the circuit particularly gripless and, without the benefit of the higher-downforce of the new aero kit, Heikki once again encountered the grip problems that have affected MP4-24 since the start of the year.
He completed three runs this morning: five laps/1m36.596s, six laps/1m34.893s and seven laps/1m35.070s to finish 18th overall.
A light shower at the start of the afternoon session delayed Heikki's opening run and prompted a typically British discussion between his engineers about the wet conditions (conclusion: "fine rain -- worst kind of rain"). Due to a scarcity of parts, Heikki's car was no longer equipped with the Nurburgring-spec front wing, meaning that he was unable to take full advantage of the performance benefits available on Lewis's car.
Heikki conducted four runs, largely evaluating both tyre compounds and refining the balance of MP4-24. His run programme consisted of two laps/1m33.724s (Options), seven laps/1m34.774s (Primes), eight laps/1m34.233s (Options) and, finally, two laps/1m36.584s (Options).
"Clearly, there were differences between the two cars today as we pushed hard to bring the new parts to the track as quickly as possible," Heikki said. "Without the upgrades, we didn't have a good basic package and had some trouble getting heat into the tyres. But the lack of parts is simply an indication on how hard we are working -- and, of course, I understand that. There have been people working night and day to get these new parts out to the track and it's just unfortunate that we don't yet have two complete sets for both cars. Still, it's really encouraging for the whole team that the upgrades appear to be working on the car. For my engineers and myself, the most important thing we can do is to keep our heads down, focus on the rest of the weekend and keep on pushing because any improvements we find will still benefit the whole team."
Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes
"An encouraging afternoon for Lewis, who used the full new aerodynamic package for P2. Although it is still early days, and I'm sure we've yet to see the strongest efforts from Red Bull Racing and Brawn GP, I think there are good signs of an improvement. It was a more difficult day for Heikki, who regrettably didn't have the new aerodynamic package upgrade, encountered traffic on his laps and generally had a much tougher afternoon. But he is a fighter, and I'm sure he'll have a strong weekend nonetheless."
Vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
"This looked quite encouraging, I have to say, and definitely better than I'd anticipated before the sessions today. We certainly did not post 'show times' four our home race; our speed was genuine and quite a bit better than in the last races. I certainly don't expect us to be fastest tomorrow, but if everything comes together we probably will be in a position to deliver a solid job on race day. Heikki's car today was not on the same technical level as Lewis's, which had new pieces that only arrived last night and which are not yet available in sufficient numbers. Our KERS hybrid is a good help around this circuit and gives us more than three tenths of a second per lap."