McLaren F1 Team endured a mixture of a day on Friday during the two practice sessions, as the extreme heat took its toll on track for many of the drivers.
Carlos Sainz Jr. seemed to cope with the temperatures well, as he performed consistently to put his car up to seventh in Free Practice 1 before ending the afternoon in eleventh. The Spaniard completed a combined total of sixty-four laps, as the MCL34 of his suffered no problems.
However, Sainz is aware of the situation with the weather for both Saturday and Sunday but he expects McLaren to be ready for all scenarios.
“I think the hot conditions offered a very challenging Friday to pretty much every team,” Sainz said. “For us, it was a matter of evaluating new set-up directions, which we did across Free Practice 1 and Free Practice 2. Free Practice 1 looked competitive; Free Practice 2 a bit less, so we need to analyse why.
“Our rivals look like they’ve made a good step forward, so it’ll be interesting come qualifying to see where we are exactly this weekend. The weather conditions also seem to change a lot for tomorrow and Sunday, so that might bring good opportunities. We’ll be ready for that.”
Lando Norris on the other hand, did not have the smoothest of days on Friday. The rookie was over half a second slower than his more experienced team-mate in the morning in twelfth.
The second session saw hardly any improvement, as the temperatures did not suit the car from his point of view. Sixteenth fastest was all he could manage and nearly two seconds off the pace.
“A tricky day. Free Practice 1 wasn’t too bad; we got to do everything we needed to,” Norris said. “We suffered a bit with the car, a couple of problems here and there but nothing major.
“In Free Practice 2 we tended to struggle a bit more, probably because of the temperature. It didn’t seem to suit the car as much. It felt like we improved in some areas but there were other areas where it was worse. We’ll go through everything overnight.
“Free Practice 2 was a bit on the messy side with the red flag, and also we had to turn off the car because we were stuck at the end of the pit-lane behind a Renault – so just not as clean as FP1. Plenty of things to improve on tomorrow, but the team will analyse the data and I’m confident we’ll be in the mix.”
Technical Director James Key considered that the track temperatures were very difficult to cope for the drivers. Although, a review of Friday’s running will help them sort out the problems before Saturday, where conditions are forecasted to be different.
“Sweltering temperatures today so tricky conditions. I think it was difficult for everyone to understand the track, the car and the tyres in such low density air and a very high track temperature,” Key analysed.
“We brought just a few test items today but we had a lot of experimental work to do, so there are several different directions and measurements that we looked at throughout the day, on both cars.
“I think this morning was fine, and gave us some general directions to follow; this afternoon, with an even higher track temperature, was a little bit more tricky for us. And, although it is close with our competitors, I think there’s a little bit of work to do overnight to try to consolidate what we know.”