Hamilton delays judgement on parts
Wet weather hinders McLaren's testing of new parts
Last Updated: 20/07/12 5:28pm
Lewis Hamilton was unable to draw any definitive conclusions on the quality of the new parts bolted on to the MP4-27 in Germany on Friday due to the rain but is confident McLaren have taken a step forward.
Amid a great deal of external and internal fanfare - that included Jenson Button describing the changes as "the biggest upgrades we've had all year by a long way" - a much-altered McLaren took to the Hockenheim track on Friday morning sporting new sidepods, an updated rear-wing and a host of 'beneath the surface' upgrades.
However, although the team were able to draw satisfaction and encouragement from finishing Practice One boasting a one-two at the top of the timesheets, their day was mostly one of frustration with heavy lunchtime rain severely curtailing their afternoon running.
As a result, Hamilton was reticent about making any firm judgements about what sort of impact the new package may have through the rest of the weekend as McLaren aim to bounce back from their Silverstone horror-show.
"We only had a couple of laps in the dry and we didn't get to back-to-back them so that we could start off with the car from the last race and then put the new stuff on," Lewis lamented to Sky Sports News. "But the car felt reasonably good all day, so a really good job from the guys."
More rain is forecast for Saturday, a prospect which may see McLaren left in the dark about whether they have managed to close the gap to Red Bull, Ferrari and Lotus until at least race-day.
"We won't know [where they stand] until tomorrow, and if it's wet then we might not know until the race. But it's definitely a step forward - how much it is, I can't really tell you," Hamilton added.
Rain has become a constant companion of the F1 circus in recent weeks, but Hamilton signalled he would taking a different approach this weekend after enduring a torrid afternoon two Sundays ago when Silverstone, against all expectation and convention, remained dry.
"At the last race, I dialled the car in for a wet race because they said it was going to be wet and then it was a dry race, so I'm going to prepare the car for qualifying and what will be, will be," he added.
Team-mate Button, meanwhile, said his decision to get out on track early in Practice One - which proved the driest point of either session - had proved very valuable and given him a potential advantage over those who opted to stay in their garages.
"This morning we got some good running, we got some good running, and we actually did three long-ish runs, well a few laps, on the test tyres," he told Sky Sports News.
"The test tyres are very good because you can do back-to-back, and we did two runs on them, so we got a good back-to-back over five or six laps. So that was actually good running.
"The first run as well on the actual prime [medium] tyre that we're going to be using here. So it was a very useful session: we got a lot more out of it than most people did in terms of comparisons and what have you."
The 32-year-old, who slipped to eighth in the wetter afternoon session, said running on the slippery track was still necessary - particularly for McLaren, who struggled on the intermediate tyres at Silverstone.
However, while some progress was made, he admits not all of their work to get the tyres up in the correct operating temperature work.
"This [afternoon] session, its not perfect conditions, but I think it's going to be like this tomorrow, so getting as much information and trying to get these tyres working is one of our big issues so we spent a lot of time out there trying to get the tyres working and when it's really wet we really struggle on both cars to get them working," Button explained.
"We tried a few things in the session - a couple of them worked, but not most of them, so there's still work going on to try and get these tyres working as we really struggle with that."
Nonetheless, Button was generally satisfied with how McLaren's first day with their upgraded car had gone.
"I think we should be happy with most of the parts we put on," he said. "I think they're working correctly so, yeah, it's nice to see some good improvements and the guys have done a great job.
"Hopefully we'll be able to see the improvement in performance this weekend."