If there's any sign of strange activity in the McLaren
garage this weekend then it might just be the team getting their rain dance warmed up for race day, as it appears that the MP4-28A is performing better in wet conditions than dry at Spa-Francorchamps.
"Our drivers appeared to prefer our car's balance this morning in FP1 when the track surface was slippery," confirmed team principal Martin Whitmarsh. "This afternoon, in FP2, when it was warmer and drier, they were rather less comfortable."
Sergio Perez agreed: "Today we had a very good first session, but a more difficult second session," he said. "That was a bit of a surprise for us, because this morning the car felt very strong and very fast, and I was very happy with its balance. But this afternoon, as I say, it was a little less consistent."
“For me, FP1 was very good, and I was very happy with the car," said Perez' team mate Jenson Button. "The balance was good and I think our pace was good, too. I didn't push very hard in the wet sectors, but in the dry as I say it felt very good.
"[In the] afternoon, however, it felt different. It's obviously a result of the warmer temperatures, and perhaps the wind also, so we've got a lot of work to do to understand why that is. Hopefully, we'll work it all out and things will be better for us [on Saturday]," he added.
"We've duly gathered a lot of data, which we'll number-crunch this evening in an effort to prepare our cars for qualifying tomorrow," contributed Whitmarsh. “As ever here at Spa, though, the weather will be an unpredictable factor both tomorrow and on race day, but it'll be the same for everyone ... No-one can claim with any confidence that he or she can make accurate weather forecasts about the Ardennes micro-climate, so let's see what the next days bring."
Despite the headaches involved in trying to second-guess the weather, Jenson Button
was clearly thrilled to be back at the historic Spa circuit once again.
"It's great to be back at Spa – the circuit is simply stunning!" he enthused. "It's one of the best circuits for a driver, so fast and flowing. You have true racing fans here too, which is fantastic to see.
"Okay, the circuit is a bit unforgiving, but in a way I don't mind that. I think we've lost a bit of that element with some of the newer circuits we've seen arrive on the calendar over the past few years. The old classics are the ones that really remind me why I love this sport so much - here, Monza, Suzuka, etc.”
Button will be hoping that with or without rain over the weekend, his love of Spa translates into a much-needed strong performance for the Woking-based team, which has said that it's seeking to extend Button's contract when it expires at the end of the current season. (See separate story