Hamilton Fastest as McLaren Enjoy Productive Friday in Monza

by David Bean

Lewis Hamilton described his Friday in Monza as ‘quite productive’, adding that everything went ‘smoothly’, as he topped the timesheets in the afternoon practice session.

His McLaren team-mate Jenson Button was also showing plenty of speed, coming second-fastest in each of the two 90-minute sessions.

“Monza is a beautiful circuit and the whole place has such great history – you really feel it as soon as you drive through the gates,” said Hamilton. “And, of course, it’s an absolutely stunning place on which to drive – the speeds are incredible and, when you get the flow right, it feels simply amazing. It’s very, very quick.

“It’s somewhat deceptive, too: a map of the track makes it look quite simple, but it’s actually incredibly technical. It’s also bumpy, which means it’s incredibly difficult to nail those final thousandths on a quick lap.

“And that’s really what today has been all about: we’re trying to fine-tune the balance and find the tiniest amounts of time. It’s extremely tight.

“Overall, today has been quite productive, and everything has gone smoothly. Hopefully, we’re not in a bad position, although there are still things we can improve on the car for tomorrow.”

“Monza is so different from anywhere else we drive,” added Button. “The straightline speeds are incredibly high – in fact there are four points around the track where we hit 200mph [322km/h]. It’s been satisfying to get some dry running under our belts today, because we were able to gather a lot of useful information.

“We tried a few different directions with set-up this afternoon – and some were better than others – but we’ll decide what works best before FP3 tomorrow and we’ll make the necessary tweaks to get the balance right. I’m pretty comfortable with the car; you always want more, but we’ve done a reasonably good job today.

“Looking at the data, there are quite a few teams out there that look quick too: it’s very close and that’s going to make it an interesting race.”

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh said that the team still have work to do before qualifying, but is pleased with the progress so far.

“There’s always a special magic in the air when the Formula 1 circus arrives in Monza – and today felt no different,” said Whitmarsh. “Managing the perfect trade-off between drag and downforce is always a tricky balancing act here, and, while we’ve still to perfect the set-up we’ll choose to run for the remainder of the weekend, we’re pleased with the good progress we’ve made so far, and the useful amount of data we’ve successfully gathered.

“Inevitably, our focus now turns to that data, and processing it in order to make the wisest changes for tomorrow. Both Lewis and Jenson were pleased with their cars, but it’s satisfying that both also feel they can extract more from the package.

“Nevertheless, we’re mindful that the competition is snapping at our heels, and that there are a number of teams which could emerge tomorrow as favourites for victory.

“Additionally, moving away from what happened on track here today, and speaking more generally, it’s worth noting that Jenson’s victory in Belgium was our second win on the trot, Lewis having triumphed in Hungary.

“That’s satisfying for a number of reasons – first because, in achieving that feat, we became the first team to have won two grands prix successively so far this season, and, second, because we accomplished that milestone on two circuits, Hungaroring and Spa-Francorchamps, whose comparative downforce set-up characteristics differ very markedly.

“So it would appear that our car is not only quick, but also quick on a wide variety of circuits. And that augurs well not only for our prospects of victory here at super-fast Monza, where you may be well sure we’ll be aiming for a hat-trick of successive wins, but also for the remainder of the season.”

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