After having to take the back seat to Red Bull in the last few Grands Prix, the McLaren Mercedes team proved that there are still more opportunities to challenge the Austrian team, as Lewis Hamilton and current world champion Jenson Button took...
After having to take the back seat to Red Bull in the last few Grands Prix, the McLaren Mercedes team proved that there are still more opportunities to challenge the Austrian team, as Lewis Hamilton and current world champion Jenson Button took both Friday practice sessions for the Grand Prix of Turkey at the Istanbul Autodrom.
"The car was reasonably good this morning, but was even more of an improvement in the second session," commented Button. "I struggled in turn eight and this will be an area that we will struggle with. Hopefully, we can work on this problem overnight."
Button set the fastest time of the day in the latter session, clocking a 1:28:280, just edging Mark Webber, who experienced an engine failure at the end of the final session. Red Bull had a tough final session, even if the team were rumored to have run more fuel than usual to disguise their pace, Sebastian Vettel, in the second Red Bull car, had to wait a significant amount of time to fix a broken water pipe. The German, however, managed to finish a very respectable third on the day.
"It was a reasonable day for me, as we worked on the new F duct", claimed Vettel. "McLaren's systems work well here, and are very good on the straights. Overall, I was happy with the balance of the car."
The Ferraris of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa also had heavy fuel while they were running in the final session, but both drivers were struggling with how the extra fuel could work for the team. Massa destroyed his soft tires after spinning at the high speed turn eight. Alonso finished eighth, while Massa had to settle for tenth. Renault's Robert Kubica managed to get close to Button's time early in the session, but fell back to eighth at the end of the day.
McLaren had no trouble in the first session either, as Button stayed on his pace to place behind Hamilton. A lot of dust was spotted on the circuit, and this contributed to many spins as nearly every driver went off the track due to the interference of the dust staying on the racing line.
"This was not a bad circuit, and we did not do too badly today." Said Hamilton. "We have not made too many bad changes with the car, and I think we can be very competitive with the Red Bulls."
The Mercedes drivers, Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher, placed third and fourth respectively, and also performed well by taking sixth and seventh in the latter session. This proves that the team could be improving and could make some gains in the races to come. Renault also is showing signs of improvement as both Kubica and his teammate Vitaly Petrov placed sixth and seventh in the session. Petrov later finished in the top ten in the second practice period, keeping up with his team leader.
One of the most improved drivers of the week was Lotus pilot Heikki Kovalainen, who got as close as 3.3 seconds off Button in the second session and looks to continue the improvement of the car as the season goes along.
The weather expects to stay good until race day, when possibilities of thunderstorms are predicted.