N ormally, you try different things in free practice in order to find answers to get. At McLaren, however, new questions came up with every run on Friday. It seemed like Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton had been driving two different cars. The tires in particular give the team from Woking a headache.
'We're still trying to understand the tires. I still haven't got it,' Button admitted afterwards. 'The car works well on the soft tires. But I just can't get the hard tires to work. I just can't get enough temperature in there. We still have to get that done for Sunday.'
Button is fighting with them hard tires
The 2009 world champion set the fastest time of the day, but in the long runs he couldn't keep up with his team-mate. A setup change only brought hope for a short time. 'Before the second run we changed something and immediately got half a second faster. After a run with the soft tires I switched back to the hard ones. And then nothing worked. Maybe on Sunday it will be a little more rubber the track better. But at the same time it should be cooler. That could be difficult. '
Button felt much more comfortable on the soft tires. 'It was clearly faster for me. The difference felt huge. But with Lewis it was the other way around. It almost looked like the harder tire was faster. That's strange. I usually like a stable tire more. But here the soft one comes towards me somehow. We still have to find out why that is. '
Hamilton with setup problems
Hamilton was able to solve his problems Teammates don't understand. 'I drove the best long run of the year on the hard tires. It was fast and the tires lasted forever. I can't take advantage of the soft tires for that. Red Bull got half a second more than we did.'
In addition to the tires, Hamilton was also concerned about the setup. The 2008 world champion was often seen off the racing line. 'That was all a bit inconsistent today. The balance has changed from corner to corner. It's a bit difficult to say what exactly it is. We have to look into the data now and try to fix the biggest problems for tomorrow. The gear ratio doesn't quite fit either. '
Hamilton had tried both noses against each other in the morning in a direct comparison. 'In the car you don't really feel a real difference,' the Brit shrugged afterwards. According to team-mate Button, the new parts are definitely a step forward. 'If the tires work, you can feel the updates. If not, you are in no man's land.'
Surprising winner on Sunday?
Both McLaren drivers are firmly convinced of this that they will fight for victory again on Sunday despite the problems. But they don't yet know who the biggest opponent is. 'The Lotus look very fast in the long run. But the Sauber and Willims were also good,' Button analyzed the times. 'There are cars there that you might not expect up front.'
Surprises cannot be ruled out in Barcelona either: 'When you come to Europe from overseas races, you usually always have a very good feeling for which cars are fast. This is not the case this season. There are still so many unknowns. '