LEWIS HAMILTON P1 programme With minimal changes to MP4-24 since Shanghai, the team once again back-to-backed the type-two and three front wing iterations, with Lewis spending just a single run evaluating FW2 and still declaring himself happier...
With minimal changes to MP4-24 since Shanghai, the team once again back-to-backed the type-two and three front wing iterations, with Lewis spending just a single run evaluating FW2 and still declaring himself happier with the newer version. "We've definitely got a very well-balanced car around here," he said. "The track felt very grippy from the start of the session and our work on the prime tyre was very consistent." Lewis conducted three runs: five laps/1m33.647s; three laps/1m34.358s (with FW2) and four laps/1m34.114s. As in Shanghai, he ended the P1 session fastest overall.
Moving into a tyre comparison programme for the afternoon, Lewis started P2 on a set of primes, running four laps and setting a best of 1m35.388s. Thereafter, he switched to the option, completing three further runs (eight laps/1m34.970s; seven laps/1m34.157s; three laps/1m33.994s) in order to ascertain the softer tyre's durability. While Lewis only recorded 11th-fastest time in the session, his engineers are once again encouraged by his fuel-corrected and long-run pace. "Both sessions were consistent and very productive," Lewis explained. "The whole field looks very tight, but we are definitely taking steps forward. While we haven't made significant progress - we didn't bring anything new here this weekend - our goal remains to score some more points."
Heikki's early runs led him to conclude that he felt more comfortable using the older FW2 version. Running on primes throughout the session, Heikki set best times of five laps/1m34.718s, four laps/1m34.907s - with FW3, and including a mid-run stop to adjust the front wing - and six laps/1m34.502s. "The track was surprisingly grippy at the start of practice," said Heikki afterwards, "but the pitlane was quite dusty and slippery, making it easy to lock wheels. I feel more comfortable with the older-spec front wing, but maybe we still need to evaluate it." Heikki ended the session fifth fastest.
Running a similar programme to Lewis, Heikki also completed four runs, starting out on the primes before switching to the option for his longer runs. Despite finishing 19th fastest, Heikki and his team conducted a very disciplined programme focusing on raceday performance: "We once again made progress and have made improvements to the car since Shanghai," said Heikki. "The big stops and long straights of this circuit really suit our package. My KERS stopped towards the end of the final session, which meant my times weren't as competitive as they could have been. But I definitely think we'll be more competitive in qualifying." Heikki's run times in P2 were: five laps/1m35.560s; eight laps/1m35.162s; eight laps/1m34.857s; six laps/1m34.764s.
MARTIN WHITMARSH - team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes
"We are satisfied with the progress we made today. Given MP4-24's performance deficit, we run these sessions with considerable discipline to ensure that the improvements we make to the car are very rigorously tested in the field. Our times in first practice were a little flattering but our afternoon programme was encouraging. Having only raced in Shanghai last week, we don't have too many upgrades for the car, but we have succeeded in finding a decent balance for MP4-24 and that certainly gives us a good foundation for the rest of the weekend."
NORBERT HAUG - vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
"This was a productive first day and we did a lot of running posting reasonably quick and, more importantly, consistent laptimes. The order in the afternoon reflects, in my view, not the right picture here as was equally the case with Lewis's P1 in first practice. Our KERS is helping quite a bit around this circuit and our plan is to use it here tomorrow and on Sunday - being the only team to do so with both cars in all the races so far."