McLaren will consider not running its much-vaunted new 'blown diffuser' at Silverstone this weekend after both Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton struggled to get the best from it in Friday practice.
The system, which was introduced to the MP4-25 along with a new floor and front wing for the team's home grand prix, failed to produce the step forward the Woking team had been hoping for as it attempts to contain Red Bull Racing, which pioneered the latest evolution of blown diffusers this season. Hamilton ended the opening day only eighth fastest, with Button down in 13th, and the team admitted that it was poised to revert to the set-up it used in Valencia after test driver Gary Paffett made a helicopter dash back to base to check the necessary settings.
"Both drivers experienced the same issues with the blown diffuser, which leads us to conclude it is an aerodynamic problem rather than a set-up problem," a team spokesman told Reuters
, "So the decision was made yesterday to revert back to the old floors."
Fortunately, the new front wing showed enough promise to be retained for the rest of the weekend, with both Button and Hamilton revealing that they had been otherwise happy with the pace of their cars.
"The changes that we made to the car, set-up wise, didn't make it better," the current points leader confirmed, "but sometimes you find that's the case. We will go back to the set-up we had earlier on and start from there again. Generally, I think the performance of the car is good and, hopefully, tomorrow, the set-up will be better to drive."
Despite being so far down the order on the opening day of a race where he has never stood on the podium, Button admitted that he wasn't getting too dispirited, citing the last of his six wins in 2009 as inspiration.
"It's hard to handle ahead of qualifying, which is a worry because that's an area where we have to be stronger," he conceded, "At the moment, we're not, but it's just a very different car to what we have driven before.
"We've done a lot of work, some positive, some not so positive, which is always the way when you are working with new parts. I think we can still do a good job, but it's not going to be a walk in the park. The next twelve hours are going to be very busy. The good thing is we're very close to home, but we'll all be working very late tonight to get everything right for tomorrow .
"It's not over yet, though, and we've only had the first day of practice. In Turkey last year, I really struggled on the Friday but won the race by over 30 seconds."