Both McLaren drivers are feeling positive this evening after each topped the timesheets during a free practice session in Abu Dhabi today.
Jenson Button was fastest in the morning session, and Lewis Hamilton was quickest in the afternoon on a day where McLaren looked as though they would be the team to beat at the Yas Marina circuit this weekend.
“It was a really positive day for me,” said Hamilton, who seems to have come into this race weekend in a much better frame of mind than many recent races. “The car feels good – our long-run pace doesn't feel too bad and we seem to be quite competitive. The car feels a lot better than it did at the last race – so I really hope I'll be able to keep that going throughout the remainder of the grand prix weekend.
“The track just got better and better today, so I slowly chipped away at the set-up. The tyres are behaving well – at the last race I had degradation and didn't have the pace, so it feels much better this weekend. That's a real positive for me.
“When you come through a Friday without any problems, it definitely makes you feel confident for the rest of the weekend.”
Button was second only to Hamilton in the afternoon session, despite not being completely satisfied with how his car is handling at this circuit.
“I'm still not entirely happy with the balance – although I'm confident we'll get to the bottom of it,” he said. “Nonetheless, the pace of the car is good – Lewis was very quick today – and our long-run pace is very good.
“I was playing around with overtaking on my long run, but I still reckon it'll be difficult to overtake people in the DRS zones. So I think it's going to be a bit of a struggle to make moves stick in the race – which means it's going to be important to qualify up at the front.
“It's tricky around here, but we made some good progress here this afternoon and evening.”
McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh is also feeling positive after today’s results: “To finish first in both sessions is an incredibly promising start to our weekend here in Abu Dhabi,“ he said. “Obviously, it's too early to accurately predict the pace of the teams around us, but it's encouraging to have been able to power through today's programme without setback and to have set the benchmark time in both P1 and P2.
“Lewis has been particularly complimentary about the car we've brought to this race, and Jenson is positive too, despite feeling there's still potential for improvement. Our aim now is to build on this promising start, further develop the cars' set-up with the engineers overnight, and push to maintain this position in qualifying tomorrow.”