In order to explore the performance of MP4-24 to a fuller extent, the team has chosen to pursue differing paths for Lewis and Heikki over the course of the Silverstone weekend. Today’s practice was the most divergent of the season so far: on a track where the benefits of using KERS are less pronounced, Heikki’s engineers chose to continue running the system while Lewis’s team decided to focus on developing the most effective balance without it.
Also evaluated today were further modifications to the floor and front wing, the back-to-backing of tongued and standard static front hubs and the addition of new double-fin sidepod strakes.
P1 programme 26 laps 1m20.650s (8th)
Lewis spent the morning understanding the balance of the car and was encouraged by its consistency. He completed two installation laps and three runs, all on the Prime tyre, as he evaluated a series of new aero components. With the track starting off cold and slippery and the tyres requiring several laps to reach their optimum, Lewis spent the morning working down to a fast time. He completed runs of four laps/1m23.722s best; six laps/1m21.026s and seven laps/1m20.650s, ending the morning session eighth fastest.
“It took a while to get used to the car this morning,” he said. “It feels a little different from what we’ve been running in previous races. Generally, I’m very happy with the balance but, with a revised car and on a high-speed circuit like this, it takes a bit longer than usual to find the limit.”
P2 programme 35 laps 1m20.417s (7th)
Lewis’s opening five-lap run (1m21.181s) felt different from the pace shown this morning. Nonetheless, his second run, on Primes, was remarkably consistent, seeing him post the following eight-lap sequence: 1m22.572s, 1m22.736s, 1m21,826s, 1m21.862s, 1m21.768s, 1m24.032s, 1m21.644s and 1m21.688s. Two further runs on Options (10 laps/1m21.475s and four laps/1m20.417s) concluded his session.
“It’s no secret that we’re lacking speed in the faster sections,” Lewis concluded. “But the car wasn’t too bad today. The balance was good, we’ve made some set-up changes and it now appears to be fairly consistent. But this has already turned out to be one of the best weekends of the year for me because I’m at my home grand prix and the fans are incredible here – I’ve seen and felt their support from the very first lap I did today.”
P1 programme 22 laps 1m21.029s (12th)
Heikki completed three runs this morning: five laps/1m22.779s;four laps/1m22.161s and six laps/1m21.029s. MP4-24’s lack of high-speed grip and its nervousness in the faster corners meant it was difficult to extract a strong time from the car, but Heikki felt the team made progress with its understanding of the car and its balance at high speed.
“Firstly, it’s great to be back at Silverstone because it’s a circuit I love,” Heikki said. “I got pole position last year and I really enjoy driving here. We know we face a tougher weekend this season because we’re lacking grip, but the balance of the car didn’t feel too bad this morning. As Lewis is running without KERS this weekend, we now have to analyse the balance of both cars and see what we’ll do for the rest of the weekend.”
P2 programme 37 laps 1m20.733s (12th)
Another busy session. Heikki started off on Primes (five laps/1m21.796s) and Options (three laps/1m20.859s) before starting his long-run programme, completing runs of seven laps (Primes/1m22.682s) and eight laps (Options/1m22.822s).
“We’re definitely making progress,” he said afterwards. “It’s still difficult to say whether it’s an advantage to be running KERS, but I felt I was getting a laptime benefit from the system. This weekend will be all about developing our car and seeing what difference the changes make to both Lewis’s and my pace. The whole team is pushing like crazy and we’re getting a better understanding of our car. Whatever happens, we are definitely going to learn a lot of useful things about the car this weekend.”
1 Sebastien Vettel Red Bull Racing 1m19.456 39 laps
2 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing 1m19.597 35
3 Adrian Sutil Force India 1m20.141 41
4 Kazuki Nakajima Williams F1 1m20.209 36
5 Fernando Alonso Renault 1m20.237 36
6 Rubens Barrichello Brawn GP 1m20.244 26
7 Lewis Hamilton Vodafone McLaren Mercedes 1m20.417 35
8 Jarno Trulli Toyota 1m20.458 40
9 Nico Rosberg Williams F1 1m20.468 42
10 Nelson Piquet Jr Renault 1m20.608 37
11 Robert Kubica BMW Sauber 1m20.622 23
12 Heikki Kovalainen Vodafone McLaren Mercedes 1m20.733 37
13 Timo Glock Toyota 1m20.762 37
14 Jenson Button Brawn GP 1m20.767 28
15 Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber 1m20.932 35
16 Sebastien Bourdais Toro Rosso 1m20.945 36
17 Felipe Massa Scuderia Ferrari 1m21.005 37
18 Kimi Raikkonen Scuderia Ferrari 1m21.132 38
19 Giancarlo Fisichella Force India 1m21.413 40
20 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso 1m21.668 37
Pos Driver Constructor Time Laps
1 Sebastien Vettel Red Bull Racing 1m19.400 20
2 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing 1m19.682 19
3 Jenson Button Brawn GP 1m20.227 20
4 Rubens Barrichello Brawn GP 1m20.242 29
5 Fernando Alonso Renault 1m20.458 26
6 Felipe Massa Scuderia Ferrari 1m20.471 23
7 Jarno Trulli Toyota 1m20.585 32
8 Lewis Hamilton Vodafone McLaren Mercedes 1m20.650 26
9 Nico Rosberg Williams F1 1m20.815 32
10 Giancarlo Fisichella Force India 1m20.838 25
11 Adrian Sutil Force India 1m20.913 22
12 Heikki Kovalainen Vodafone McLaren Mercedes 1m21.029 22
13 Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber 1m21.103 24
14 Kimi Raikkonen Scuderia Ferrari 1m21.179 27
15 Sebastien Bourdais Toro Rosso 1m21.384 23
16 Timo Glock Toyota 1m21.386 32
17 Kazuki Nakajima Williams F1 1m21.489 26
18 Nelson Piquet Jr Renault 1m21.525 30
19 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso 1m21.590 37
20 Robert Kubica BMW Sauber 1m21.801 16
News and photos courtesy of McLaren.com, ToyotaF1, and Red Bull no reuse for any reason.