McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh has confirmed that the MP4-25's 'blown diffuser' will be evaluated during Friday's free practice sessions at Hockenheim to determine if work carried out since the British Grand Prix has made it a viable addition to its championship push.
The team was left frustrated when the system, touted as a major step forward in its battle with Red Bull Racing, failed to work well enough to be used at Silverstone, and the cars of Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton had to be hastily returned to their previous specification ahead of qualifying. Although Button struggled to 14th on the grid, Hamilton pulled out 'a stonking lap' to line up on row two, and the pair then went on to finish fourth and second respectively in the race to retain the top two places in the championship.
“We've come off an extremely successful run of recent races, but we're nonetheless under no illusions that we need to bring further performance to the MP4-25 if we are to remain at the forefront of this championship battle," Whitmarsh admitted, “The days since the British Grand Prix have been spent back at the MTC industriously undertaking rig tests, dyno running and development in the wind tunnel to ensure that the future deployment of the blown diffuser gives us a more accurate and beneficial read.
“Of course, that final validation will only come at the circuit. So we're looking at undertaking a major test programme on Friday at Hockenheim. This will involve both drivers running back-to-back evaluations with the T2 and T3 floors and, if these prove positive, we'll then look at the deployment of the new floor for the remainder of the race weekend. But that's a decision we'll only make after a thorough analysis of the inherent risks and benefits.”
Despite the uncertainty surrounding the diffuser, which RBR has been running all season, Whitmarsh is confident that McLaren will continue to be a threat to Red Bull in Germany and beyond.
“I think Silverstone showed that we were in no mood to be complacent – either in our aggressive push to put upgrades on the car, or our decision to remove them and put our faith in an older iteration of the car, despite a lack of running compared with our rivals," he said, "It's ambition and decisiveness that win world championships, and, on both counts, I think we got that blend just right last weekend, which is pleasing."