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

- MP4-26A-01
- P1 programme: 18 laps, 1m23.865s, 1st
- P2 programme: 21 laps, 1m24.046s (+0.036s), 2nd

“We spent today working on wing set-ups – it looked like some teams may have been running lower downforce than us - but once we used DRS we were looking pretty good.

“It’s interesting to see the different downforce levels - some teams are faster along the straights – but we’re faster through the middle sector.

“It’s always a compromise, but our long-run pace doesn’t look at all bad. We were pretty strong in both sessions and, on heavier fuel, I think we’re slightly stronger than the Ferraris.

“At the end of P2, the Red Bulls were looking pretty strong, but I’m pretty sure they weren’t on the same fuel load as us, which is encouraging. Jenson and I are both running the same wing set-up as each other, and I feel really happy with it.

“We’ll make some small changes overnight, but I think we can challenge the Red Bulls this weekend.

“The car is going really well, and we’re continuing to make small improvements, but it’s going to be a hard race.”

- MP4-26A-04
- P1 programme: 19 laps, 1m24.786s (+0.921s), 2nd
- P2 programme: 30 laps, 1m24.508s (+0.498s), 7th

“Some of the things we tried on my car throughout the day worked better than others, so we’re not really where I feel we ought to be yet, and we haven’t yet determined what downforce level to run.

“I don’t yet feel totally at one with the car, but we’re working on it. In fact, I think there’s going to be quite a lot of data to look over tonight before we choose a direction for the rest of the weekend.

“Otherwise, there’s a fresh surface on quite a lot of the circuit, so there’s quite a bit of sliding about, which is tough on the tyres, particularly over a long run.”

Team Principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

“Monza is always a very challenging circuit: obviously, you want to be as fast as you possibly can along the straights, but it’s actually a very delicate trade-off between drag and downforce through the corners.

“You don’t want to damage the tyres too much by running too little wing and allowing the car to slide excessively – but if you run too much, you risk struggling along the straights.To make it even harder, we need to further balance the set-up for an end-of-straight speed with and without DRS, and, furthermore, to optimise the car for more extensive use of DRS during qualifying.

“Consequently, today was very much about analysing our downforce levels to ensure that both Lewis and Jenson felt comfortable with the car, and that our engineers were happy with our pace.

“There’s still some more work to be done, but we’re encouraged by our initial pace today and feel confident that we can make good progress before tomorrow’s sessions. Lewis was particularly happy with his car’s balance today, Jenson perhaps a little less so.

“Nonetheless, we’re comfortable with both drivers’ pace and we’re looking forward to another encouragingly constructive day tomorrow.”

* Official photos and report courtesy of VODAFONE MCLAREN MERCEDES *

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