Lewis Hamilton may have set the benchmark today in practice for the F1 2012 Italian Grand Prix, but he thinks there is still more performance to come from his McLaren.
Hamilton was sixth quickest this morning in the opening session, but improved this afternoon to post a 1 minute 25.290 second lap, the best of the day, although only just as team-mate, Jenson Button
and Ferrari's Fernando Alonso
were only a few hundredths slower.
Speaking after the two sessions, Hamilton described the day as 'quite productive', adding they are not in a 'bad position'.
“Monza is a an absolutely stunning place on which to drive – the speeds are incredible and, when you get the flow right, it feels simply amazing. It's very, very quick,” he said. “It's somewhat deceptive, too: a map of the track makes it look quite simple, but it's actually incredibly technical. It's also bumpy, which means it's incredibly difficult to nail those final thousandths on a quick lap.
“And that's really what today has been all about: we're trying to fine-tune the balance and find the tiniest amounts of time. It's extremely tight.
“Overall, today has been quite productive, and everything has gone smoothly. Hopefully, we're not in a bad position, although there are still things we can improve on the car for tomorrow.”
Team-mate Jenson Button
meanwhile also went well and he was second quickest in both P1 and P2, his best lap a 1m 25.328s: “It's been satisfying to get some dry running under our belts today, because we were able to gather a lot of useful information,” he added. “We tried a few different directions with set-up this afternoon – and some were better than others – but we'll decide what works best before FP3 tomorrow and we'll make the necessary tweaks to get the balance right.
“I'm pretty comfortable with the car; you always want more, but we've done a reasonably good job today. Looking at the data, there are quite a few teams out there that look quick too: it's very close and that's going to make it an interesting race.”
McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh is also mindful that is it very tight, with less than three tenths of a second separating the top-nine runners.
“There's always a special magic in the air when the F1 circus arrives in Monza – and today felt no different. Managing the perfect trade-off between drag and downforce is always a tricky balancing act here, and, while we've still to perfect the set-up we'll choose to run for the remainder of the weekend, we're pleased with the good progress we've made so far, and the useful amount of data we've successfully gathered,” he summarised.
“Inevitably, our focus now turns to that data, and processing it in order to make the wisest changes for tomorrow. Both Lewis and Jenson were pleased with their cars, but it's satisfying that both also feel they can extract more from the package.
“Nevertheless, we're mindful that the competition is snapping at our heels, and that there are a number of teams which could emerge tomorrow as favourites for victory.”