McLaren's Lewis Hamilton is feeling bullish following practice today for the F1 2011 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix and after topping the times in the second session said his car 'feels good'.
Hamilton has had a pretty torrid year, but made a positive start to the penultimate round of the season at the Yas Marina Circuit, setting the third best time in FP1, before then going top in FP2 - his best lap a 1 minute 39.586 seconds, which put him 0.199 seconds up team-mate, Jenson Button in the sister MP4-26.
“It was a really positive day for me,” Hamilton said. “The car feels good - our long-run pace doesn't feel too bad and we seem to be quite competitive. The car feels a lot better than it did at the last race - so I really hope I'll be able to keep that going throughout the remainder of the grand prix weekend.
“The track just got better and better today, so I slowly chipped away at the set-up. The tyres are behaving well - at the last race I had degradation and didn't have the pace, so it feels much better this weekend. That's a real positive for me.
“When you come through a Friday without any problems, it definitely makes you feel confident for the rest of the weekend.”
Button meanwhile, who had been quickest in FP1, wasn't quite so content, although he felt the speed was there.
“I'm still not entirely happy with the balance, although I'm confident we'll get to the bottom of it. Nonetheless, the pace of the car is good – Lewis was very quick today – and our long-run pace is very good,” he explained.
“I was playing around with overtaking on my long run, but I still reckon it'll be difficult to overtake people in the DRS zones. So I think it's going to be a bit of a struggle to make moves stick in the race – which means it's going to be important to qualify up at the front.
“It's tricky around here, but we made some good progress here this afternoon and evening.”
“To finish first in both sessions is an incredibly promising start to our weekend here in Abu Dhabi,” summarised McLaren boss, Martin Whitmarsh. “Obviously, it's too early to accurately predict the pace of the teams around us, but it's encouraging to have been able to power through today's programme without setback and to have set the benchmark time in both P1 and P2.
“Lewis has been particularly complimentary about the car we've brought to this race, and Jenson is positive too, despite feeling there's still potential for improvement.
“Our aim now is to build on this promising start, further develop the cars' set-up with the engineers overnight, and push to maintain this position in qualifying tomorrow.”