McLaren team and drivers report from the first day of the Italian Grand Prix weekend, Round 12 of the 2013 Formula 1 World Championship, at Monza.
Jenson Button MP4-28A-04: “It’s always fun to drive around such a fast circuit. You don’t really feel the speed, it’s more about getting used to the extremely low downforce set-up that we run around here. Early on in FP1, my DRS stuck open – we use a completely different DRS system for Monza because it’s a low-downforce circuit. The mechanism stuck open in the shroud – which was a mistake – but it was quickly fixed by the guys in the garage. Despite that problem, FP1 was actually better for us than FP2, when we weren’t quite as competitive. Nevertheless, there’s a little bit more pace in the car that I hope we’ll be able to extract – so it would be nice to get through to Q3. We changed quite a bit between the sessions today, and we think we know what works and what doesn’t. It was a positive day in terms of understanding the car, actually. There are a lot of cars only narrowly ahead of us – it’s extremely close out there. So we’re going to work as hard as we can overnight. Having said that, we know that the race will be more important than qualifying.”
Sergio Perez MP4-28A-02: “We managed to complete a very positive programme during both of today’s sessions. In fact, we got through everything on our job-list today, which is a real positive. As always at Monza, we tried varying levels of downforce – that’s an important thing to get right here – but it’s a very difficult decision to make around here. Clearly, we need to make the right call for Sunday. In fact, as Jenson says, I don’t really feel that qualifying tomorrow will be quite as important as it usually is; the key for us will be to engineer ourselves a good set-up, with a good strategy, for Sunday. So, in actual fact, we’ll spend more time thinking about Sunday, and not so much looking at tomorrow. I’m not even too focused on getting into Q3, because I know our main aim will be about how we manage everything on Sunday.”
Martin Whitmarsh, Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes: “It’s always a special feeling when you hear a Formula 1 car fire up in the Parco di Monza for the first time each year – it’s a hallowed place for grand prix racing, and I always get a strong sense of the unique romance and history of the place. Given the particular nature of this circuit – where the emphasis is placed firmly on straightline speed and less so on cornering grip – Friday testing at Monza is invariably focused on finding the best compromise between speed and grip. And that’s a complex dynamic: it requires an iterative approach to evaluating the car’s varying configurations as we work to provide our engineers with the broadest data-set from which to draw the correct conclusions. In many respects, qualifying tomorrow will not be our usual priority, as finding a set-up that enables us to run efficiently – in terms of both managing tyres and being equipped to overtake other cars – will be our key consideration for the weekend.” (McLaren F1)