April 19th, 2013 (F1Plus / Chris Cameron-Dow) - McLaren had an extremely productive Friday in Bahrain, with Button completing 55 laps and Perez 60 - more than a full race distance. Button managed to get into the top ten in FP1, but could only manage 11th in FP2. Perez was 11th in FP1 and 13th in FP2.
McLaren have been off the pace from the first session of the season-opening Australian Grand Prix. But in typical McLaren style, they have thrown all available resources at recovering from a bad start to the season, and it is beginning to pay off. Button scored an impressive fifth place in China last weekend, and he and Sergio Perez will be looking for more points-scoring opportunities on Sunday in Bahrain. However, scrambling for points is not in the nature of McLaren - they want to win - which means there is much more work ahead of them.
But the first challenge for McLaren is tomorrow's qualifying session. Over a single lap, the McLaren is just about quick enough to progress to Q3, but the drivers will have to deliver lap times to make that happen.
This is what the team had to say after Friday practice:
Jenson Button: “Today’s sessions were very productive for us. We completed some useful investigative work this morning before focusing on longer runs this afternoon. It’s very difficult to know exactly what to do with set-up. This is a big traction circuit, with lots of low-speed exits and a few high-speed corners too, and that puts a lot of load into the rear tyres. The tyres are behaving a bit strangely here – driving conservatively doesn’t seem to help their wear-life, so there’s only so much you can do without damaging your outright pace. But we’ve tried a few things, and we’ll get there. I’ve already got a good feeling that we’ve found a set-up and a direction for tomorrow that will be more competitive. There’s a lot we can take away from today that will help us for tomorrow.”
Sergio Perez: “We managed to complete our full run-plan in both the morning and afternoon, which was a positive, but it’s going to be a difficult weekend for us. Although we’ll probably be fighting to get into Q3, there’s still plenty of potential for having a good race on Sunday. The team has shown before that, with solid preparation, we can run a clever strategy on Sunday, and I think we have enough raw material from today to help us race strongly this weekend. So, scoring points is a realistic ambition for us here in Bahrain.”
Martin Whitmarsh, Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes: “Neither Jenson nor Checo had any real problems during today’s sessions, but, like many teams, we struggled to make the Option tyre last across a stint – that’s likely to be a recurring problem throughout the rest of the weekend, in fact. Nevertheless, there are some positives to take from today: we did a lot of running, gathered some useful data, and our upgrades proved helpful. As always, we’ll now go away and analyse our data and we’ll come back well equipped to make a big effort on both Saturday and Sunday.”