Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton were pleasantly surprised to find themselves the Friday pace-setters by Matthew Clayton
McLaren drivers Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton, first and second after Friday practice at the Qantas Australian Grand Prix, admitted that their performance was a pleasant surprise after a troublesome pre-season testing campaign.
McLaren brought an untried exhaust system to Melbourne this weekend in a bid to improve their pace and reliability, and after finishing sixth and seventh respectively in the first practice session, the British duo became the pace-setters in session two, Button’s lap of 1min 25.854secs the quickest of the day.
The 31-year-old, winner of the last two races here at Albert Park, was pleased to have a positive day after a difficult time in testing, but wasn’t making any predictions of success in qualifying on Saturday.
“I don’t think there’s much to be gained from looking at today’s times,” he said.
“I’m not going to get too carried away. Still, it’s been a positive day because we’ve been able to do so much running. The new exhaust has definitely brought performance to the car.”
Hamilton was just over one-tenth of a second slower than Button in Friday’s second practice, and the 2008 winner in Melbourne said the team had made significant strides with the MP4-26 since the last off-season test in Barcelona.
“I’m not reading too much into the others’ performance,” Hamilton said.
“We don’t know what fuel loads the others are running, but our car feels like a big improvement from where we were just a few weeks ago. “Our initial feeling is that the car is good, but we’ll need to see tomorrow. I think we’re in the hunt for some points.”