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Rain during practice sessions has been hampering McLaren’s testing


By Berthold Bouman

The rain during the free practice sessions in Great Britain, Germany, and now Hungary, has hampered McLaren’s testing, said Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh today. “Well, it’s certainly difficult now that we don’t test. If you bring a whole package of upgrades to the car, on Friday morning P1 typically we have our only test session and if it’s wet then it rather handicaps that test,” he said during the usual FIA Friday press conference at the Hungaroring.

Martin Whitmarsh, Team Principal McLaren

McLaren have raised their game recently and came up with several upgrades that had to be tested, but rain made it impossible to get reliable data. Despite the lack of dry testing it seems McLaren is much faster now. “I think we’ve made some progress and we will continue to do so. We had a reasonably big package of upgrades in Germany and we have a few bits and pieces here as well. You’ll do what you can. We’ve had a remarkable run of run of rain in the practice sessions so far this year,” said Whitmarsh.

And he added, “It would be nice to get some steady, dry conditions where the engineers can work more easily. But it’s the same for everyone.” This season seems to be a season in which the other race in Formula One, the development race, is also very important to win in order to stay at the top.

Whitmarsh explained, “Everyone, to varying degrees, is trying to develop and improve the car — and that’s part of the challenge. Sometimes you’ve got a great data set and you can go forward with confidence and other times you have to make a decision on a limited data set and in some ways that’s more interesting. The engineers don’t like it but it’s more interesting when you have to take a bit of a flyer.”

Getting the Pirelli tyres to work is the main challenge this season, and some teams are better at it than others. Whitmarsh commented, “This year has been a very difficult to predict championship, it’s been tyre dominated. Those who work the tyres … you can work very hard on your car but if you can’t turn the tyres on then you’re in trouble. We’ve seen that a few times on our car — too often — and we’ve seen it on a few other cars. That’s a great challenge for everyone.”

Jenson Button, McLaren

Asked about Jenson Button’s recent problems, Whitmarsh admitted it had been tough for the 2009 World Champion. “If you are a racing driver and a racing driver in a team like McLaren or Ferrari, you’re going to come under quite a lot of scrutiny. It’s very different, you can turn up as a rookie in some other teams and there’s pressure because you’re in Formula One but I think if you’re in McLaren, whoever you are, same if you’re in Ferrari, year in, year out, if you’re not qualifying on the front two rows of the grid then there’s quite a large enquiry afterwards and all sorts of pressure ensues,” he said.

But today McLaren was certainly not under pressure to perform, Lewis Hamilton was fastest during today’s two free practice sessions, and Button was second in the morning session, and sixth during the afternoon session.

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