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Belgian GP practice reactions: McLaren-Mercedes


Lewis Hamilton – 1st:

“I'm happier today than I expected. We don't have as much downforce as some of the other teams, so we're not as quick as we'd like to be, especially in the middle sector. Fortunately, however, we have KERS and can use it to our advantage in the first and third sectors. The car didn't feel fantastic today – but we only really had one session to find a set-up so we've got some changes to make overnight. Still, this is a massive improvement compared with Turkey or Silverstone, and we look competitive, which is important, so we're not unhappy.”


Heikki Kovalainen – 12th:

“I think slower speed corners suit our car better than high-speed stuff. So I guess we are still losing a bit of time in the high-speed corners compared to the fastest cars. But we've definitely made some good improvements in this area and the car feels positive to drive and seems to be working quite well around here. We're in the hunt again, which is encouraging, and we're working on a strong strategy for the race. We should be able to fight for a good starting position in qualifying tomorrow.”


Martin Whitmarsh - team principal (McLaren-Mercedes):

“As always at Spa, the weather played a prominent role in our preparations for the race – but the local micro-climate is one of the idiosyncrasies of the place, and the reason why it so often throws up an unusual result. As an example, this morning's rainfall initially looked like a passing shower but ended up rendering much of P1 useless for practical evaluation. Into this afternoon's practice, the blue skies enabled us to complete some more meaningful running as we crammed a busy set-up evaluation and a tyre analysis programme into a single session. The lack of running means there's still scope for further improvement, and there's plenty of work to be done overnight, but we end the first day reasonably encouraged by the speed of our overall package.”


Norbert Haug - vice-president, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport:

“Today was a positive start to our weekend. Having said that, the top 10 is only separated by 0.4s and there are 18 cars – including the top two in the world championship in 17th and 18th spots – within less than a second of each other. This shows just how mega-competitive Formula 1 is these days and today was probably the Friday with the closest lap times in the history of this demanding traditional 7km circuit. However, things will probably look different tomorrow. I'm definitely not expecting the four guys fighting for the world championship to be in positions four, 10, 17 and 18 on the grid. Neither Lewis nor Heikki have been completely happy with the set-ups of their cars so there will be some work to be done before tomorrow. But, all in all, Spa has started off better than I would have expected, and everybody in the team has been working flat out to make sure we are continuing in that direction.”



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