Belgian F1 Grand Prix 2011: Free Practice Report (VMM)

- MP4-26A-04
- P1 programme: 8 laps, 2m02.740s (+8.385s), 3rd
- P2 programme: 9 laps, 1m50.770s (+0.449s), 3rd

“Despite the changeable weather, I think we learnt quite a bit today. We didn’t get quite as many laps’ running in the dry as we’d have liked, but we still made some reasonable progress.

“I tried a couple of different rear-wing combinations today – and each had their positives and negatives.

“The wet weather didn’t make it easy to draw many meaningful comparisons, and it’ll be a bit of a challenge to decide which way to take the car’s set-up direction, but I’m sure we’ll get there.

“Speaking personally, I think it might have been more fun to race with DRS through Eau Rouge - but on the other hand I suppose you’d have to say that, on balance, the FIA has made the right choice: you lose so much downforce by activating the DRS that it’s safer to keep it closed through the corner.

“I’d definitely prefer it to be dry on Sunday. I reckon we’d still do a very good job in the wet, but I think we’re looking very strong in the dry.

“The Red Bulls are very strong in the middle sector too, but we’re definitely in good shape overall.”

- MP4-26A-03
- P1 programme: 7 laps, 2m04.301s (+9.946s), 5th
- P2 programme: 9 laps, 1m50.838s (+0.517s), 4th

“We got a couple of laps in the dry during P2, but we didn’t do too much because of the changeable conditions. In fact, we spent most of the day running installation laps to test wings and to find out which downforce levels to use.

“We look pretty good in the wet, but I think the car is pretty solid in the dry too. It’s also difficult to get the car set up to be competitive both with and without DRS, so it’s going to be really close - although it looks as though the same cars as usual are going to be up at the front.

“I had a big moment on the approach to Blanchimont in P1. I drove across a small river on the track - I must have been doing around 150mph – and I had a huge tank-slapper.

“I’m glad I was alert enough to correct it, otherwise we could have ended up with all four corners and both wings knocked off the car!

“The top three or four teams all look competitive; now our challenge is to make the right choices with the wings and downforce levels.”

Team Principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

“It’s always fun to watch the Spa micro-climate once again defy the best efforts of the weather forecasters and produce a pair of typically unpredictable sessions!

“Nonetheless, we did our best to avoid the persistent rain showers in order to collect data on a variety of different rear-wing packages. We’ll analyse that data tonight and pull together the optimal components for the remainder of the weekend.

“Both Lewis and Jenson are happy with the balance of their cars, but, of course, we need to thoroughly analyse the data in order to find the perfect trade-off between drag and downforce for a tricky circuit such as this.

“The unpredictable weather doesn’t make doing our sums any easier, but I’m confident that our engineers will once again do a fantastic job.”

* Official photos and report courtesy of VODAFONE MCLAREN MERCEDES *

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