European GP: McLaren Friday practice report

Heikki Kovalainen: Heikki completed three installation laps this morning as the team began evaluating new components for the Valencia weekend. With the track feeling quite green and slippery, Heikki played himself in during the first session...

Heikki Kovalainen:

Heikki completed three installation laps this morning as the team began evaluating new components for the Valencia weekend. With the track feeling quite green and slippery, Heikki played himself in during the first session (five laps/1m42.762s best; four laps/1m42.636s), but quickly found a good rhythm and a positive set-up for the car.

Into the afternoon, Heikki continued his earlier momentum, running through his full programme: four laps/1m42.768s; five laps/1m42.857s; seven laps/1m41.354s (Options) and seven laps/1m40.738s(Options). He ended the day 10th fastest overall.

"I am quite satisfied with my day's running," Heikki said. "We ran exactly the programme that we'd planned and the car feels pretty good. For me, this has been a much better start to my weekend than in Hungary and I feel like we're in good shape. The pace at the front is very close, but I think we're in the hunt. We now go into tomorrow fully focused on getting a good result."

Lewis Hamilton:

Lewis spent most of the morning session tweaking the set-up to his satisfaction. He completed two installation laps before conducting a three-run programme - all on Prime tyres (four laps/1m43.645s; four laps/1m42.654s and two laps/1m44.102s). Despite struggling with the rear-end, he concluded the morning by finding a comfortable set-up.

In the afternoon, Lewis was even more pleased with the changes made between the break, but, on only his second flying lap, the rear-end snapped into oversteer and he hit the wall with the front wing.=20

Although the contact was only slight - breaking one of the front-wing hangers - the team's lack of spares meant that he was forced to sit out the remainder of the afternoon session.

"I touched the wall, but didn't even really feel the impact," Lewis later admitted. "I only grazed the front wing - but, unfortunately, it couldn't be repaired as we didn't have a spare one. Hopefully, we can get a new one for tomorrow, or else we'll have to make some changes - we don't have lots of these wings available.

"I didn't feel too happy with the car this morning, but the changes we made between the sessions were very positive. On my last lap, I was six tenths up and it was already looking quite good, so I feel positive for Saturday. It's a shame we missed out on so much track-time, but I still think we'll be okay tomorrow - that time can always be regained."

Martin Whitmarsh, Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

"As a team, we enjoy this circuit - it's a unique, demanding challenge for the drivers, engineers and mechanics. Unfortunately, Lewis witnessed the unforgiving nature of this place when he grazed the wall at the start of P2 - it was only a light touch but it was enough to break part of the nosecone we'd brought for this race.=20

"For the team, that breakage also tells another story: as with all the teams, the factory shutdown presented us with a number of challenges - one of which was preparing sufficient spares for this weekend. Sadly, we didn't have enough parts to enable Lewis to complete this afternoon's session - but that's also a legacy of our intense and aggressive development strategy, which has seen us relentlessly bring new parts to the track as soon as they are manufactured. In this instance, more spares will arrive tonight and will be fitted ready for tomorrow.

"Despite this incident, we're still encouraged by the pace demonstrated by both drivers today - and once again go into tomorrow's sessions gearing up for another battle at the front."

Norbert Haug, Vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport=20

"Not an ideal start to the weekend with Lewis unfortunately damaging his car on his second timed lap in P2. The spin slightly damaged his front wing, and, since there are no spares yet for this brand new part, it meant the end of his session. Heikki had to run without his KERS hybrid working due to a technical problem which cost him both track time and lap time. We'll be in much better shape tomorrow and on Sunday."

-credit: mclaren

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Norbert Haug , Lewis Hamilton , Heikki Kovalainen , Martin Whitmarsh
Teams Mercedes , McLaren