McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton was second best on Friday in free practice ahead of the F1 2010 opener in Bahrain.
Hamilton, who was sixth in the first session on a 1 minute 57.163 seconds, improved to set a 1m 55.854s lap in FP2, something that left him 0.445 seconds off the pace set by Nico Rosberg.
“Out on track, it’s been very hot so tyre degradation of both compounds has been pretty high. But I think the degradation is something we can handle; you build it into your driving style and moderate the approach to each lap,” said Hamilton.
“The new section of track seems to be very bumpy and tricky – but everyone’s in the same boat. Equally, our car feels very heavy with a high fuel-load – it doesn’t want to stop under braking – but through the high-speed corners it feels quite well balanced. It’s just getting the car stopped that’s tricky: it doesn’t stop as well as when it’s on low tanks.
“Overall though, today didn’t feel too bad. We still don’t really have a full understanding of where all the teams are because everyone was running different fuel-loads. As a result, the positions on today’s timesheets don’t really reflect overall pace too much yet.”
Jenson Button meanwhile was fifth in the first session and fourth in the second. His best effort was a 1 minute 56.076 seconds, which left him just 0.222 seconds off his team-mate.
“Today’s shown us that looking after the rear tyres is very difficult here, especially on the softer compound. So you find yourself driving with a lot of oversteer through most of the stint,” said Button.
“The new section of track is very bumpy. Turns Six and Seven are particularly tough because you’re trying to brake as late as you can and, if you do that, the car hits the ground, you bounce all over the place and it’s very difficult to see where you’re going. So you have to brake earlier and more gently, so the front doesn’t dip through that part of the corner – and that positions you better for the next turn.
“We’re still working on our set-up – and that’s not something you can really do in the second session because you’re working on a tyre back-to-back programme and the track’s so busy. We know where the car is now and we know where we want it to be, so there’s work to be done this evening to improve things overnight.
“I think we did an OK job today. We can be reasonably happy with the performance of the car, although we know there are areas we still need to work on. The basic car is working well, but we’re not quite there with the balance yet.”