Lewis Hamilton has admitted that McLaren struggled today during practice for the European Grand Prix.
Hamilton was eighth this morning in the opening session, and while he improved this afternoon, his best lap, a 1 minute 40.147 seconds, still left him a lowly 14th overall - eight tenths off pace setter, Sebastian Vettel . Despite that though, Hamilton is 'quite' confident he will be more competitive on Saturday and closer to the pace.
“We didn't have a brilliant day today – it was a bit of a struggle to be honest – but I'm quite confident that we can make changes overnight and get back into the hunt tomorrow,” Lewis commented. “I wasn't totally happy with my car today, but, being realistic, you can't always get it absolutely right, can you?
“This year, we've usually got the balance spot-on during practice, but we perhaps didn't run precisely the correct set-up today. We think we know what the problems were though, and how to put them right, so we ought to be fine for tomorrow. I'm quite confident that we'll have improved things for qualifying.”
Team-mate Jenson Button meanwhile also had a tough day and while he was fourth this morning, he slipped back to 12th in P2.
“The car didn't feel too bad today: we just struggled a little with front locking, and the lap-time isn't quite there yet, but we've made some changes that should start to improve that tomorrow,” he added.
“I think we're quicker over a single lap than the time-sheets suggest, but the car is still a little tricky to drive on Option tyres.
“I'm confident that the changes we're now making will make a difference – but whether that will be enough to challenge at the front is still an unknown, because the field is so extremely competitive right now,” he conceded.
“Today was a challenging day, at the end of whose second free practice session the top 15 cars were covered by less than a second. That statistic clearly underlines just how close the cars are this season – but, even so, we'd be a bit happier if we'd ended the day a little closer to the front," summarised McLaren team principal, Martin Whitmarsh.
“The unexpectedly gusty winds presented further problems, and made development more difficult, especially as tomorrow and on Sunday it's likely that the weather will revert to the hot conditions we saw here yesterday.
“So, now, we've got a lot of data to process, and this evening we'll be crunching that data with a view to optimising our cars' performance and balance on this tricky street circuit.”