Carlos Sainz is currently “best of the rest” in drivers championship and he started the weekend with another solid P7 in Free Practice 1. Unfortunately, the Spaniard wasn’t able to be as fast in second practice, as his McLaren didn’t improve much to maintain that position. “I think the hot conditions offered a very challenging Friday to pretty much every team. For us, it was a matter of evaluating new set-up directions, which we did across FP1 and FP2. FP1 looked competitive; FP2 a bit less, so we need to analyse why.”
It also looked like there was a big improvement from other teams between the two practices, who could put even more uncertainty on the midfield fight for the weekend: “Our rivals look like they’ve made a good step forward, so it’ll be interesting come qualifying to see where we are exactly this weekend. The weather conditions also seem to change a lot for tomorrow and Sunday, so that might bring good opportunities. We’ll be ready for that”, Sainz said.
Lando Norris was pretty much on the same page of his teammate, as he was even more in trouble during the day, showing a slower pace especially in the afternoon: “In FP2 we tended to struggle a bit more, probably because of the temperature. It didn’t seem to suit the car as much. It felt like we improved in some areas but there were other areas where it was worse. We’ll go through everything overnight. Plenty of things to improve on tomorrow, but the team will analyse the data and I’m confident we’ll be in the mix.”
Also McLaren’s technical director James Key confirmed how hard it was today the get the right decisions on track: “I think it was difficult for everyone to understand the track, the car and the tyres in such low density air and a very high track temperature.”, he said. “I think this morning was fine, and gave us some general directions to follow; this afternoon, with an even higher track temperature, was a little bit more tricky for us. And, although it is close with our competitors, I think there’s a little bit of work to do overnight to try to consolidate what we know”, Key concluded.