McLaren's Lewis Hamilton believes they are 'definitely making small steps forward', that was his verdict following practice today for the F1 2010 Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps.

Hamilton, who lost the lead in the drivers' championship after gearbox problems sidelined him in Hungary, was competitive in both sessions - setting the second best time in FP1, and the third best time in FP2, when the weather conditions improved.

"The weather made it a bit of an up-and-down day," Hamilton said. "It started off very wet, so we didn't do too much running in the morning. But we got a few more laps this afternoon on the Intermediates and then the Option tyre.

"Because the rules don't allow us to use too many wet-weather tyres - we only have three Extremes and four Intermediates - we really need to look after them, so we were very cautious, just in case we need to use them later on in the weekend.

"We're definitely making small steps forward. This track does seem to suit our car better [than in Hungary], but let's not get ahead of ourselves. If it rains, then we seem to be competitive, but we have realistic expectations for this weekend - I didn't score in the last race, so it's important that we get more points on the board on Sunday."

Team-mate Jenson Button was also pretty happy with his McLaren MP4-25 and he was sixth in FP1 and seventh in FP2.

"Considering the conditions, I think today was a reasonable day. We've still got some more work to do, but I'm happier with the car here than I was in the last couple of races. I've got a reasonable balance and a good basis to work on, and that's important," Button noted.

"We got pretty much everything Spa could throw at us today. And, despite the weather, we still got some running done on the Extreme, Intermediate and Option tyre. I'm happy with how the car felt in the different conditions - it's a positive.

"I purposely didn't do too many laps on either wet-weather tyre, as I didn't want to destroy them. You can't afford to do that. So we looked after the tyres, which could be useful for us ahead of qualifying."

McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh added: "The weather made things interesting, if challenging, today. Both our drivers were forced to conserve wet tyres in the expectation of needing them later in the weekend, which limited our running. However, they were satisfied with the balance of their cars - although in these conditions it's almost impossible to establish competitiveness relative to rivals. So, overall, I guess I'll just say that we're pleased to end the day with two undamaged cars!"

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