McLaren F1 team sporting director Sam Michael says that Red Bull was not reached ultimate pace in this season, last weekend at Valencia Red Bull set pole and in race they are built up a 20 second lead before the Safety Car.
Last race at Valencia rear-end upgraded Red Bull dominate both session qualifying and race. Vettel posted fastest lap-time in Q3 .3 seconds ahead of McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton and they are set 20+ seconds gap in Sunday race.
Sam Michael says RB8’s Valencia domination was the circuit specific nature and its suitable for Red Bull. He added that McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton set .6 second advantage in Spanish GP qualifying, but refueling error demoted him to the back of the grid after comfortably securing pole position.
Asked about in last grand prix for European GP Red Bull’s advantage was due to the upgrade or just suiting the characteristics of the Valencia circuit, Michael told the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes phone-in: “I think that has got some circuit specific nature to it. In the past Valencia hasn’t been a track that we have been particularly good at and if you look forward to Silverstone this weekend it definitely sits more in line with where the McLaren car’s strengths are.”
“They [Red Bull] did take a step forward but I don’t think it’s as big as the pace that Sebastian showed in the first stint. We’ll be looking to correct that in Silverstone. If you look back to Barcelona we were almost 0.6s in front of them on the grid before we took the penalty. Looking at the type of track that Silverstone is we’re hoping for a repeat of that.
“Ultimately we’ve got upgrades coming to Silverstone as well, as we do at every race, and we target to bring at least a tenth and we’ve achieved that throughout the year. At Silverstone we’ve got more than that and it comes through a series of aerodynamic and suspension upgrades. Regardless of where Red bull were at Valencia – and they were very strong – regardless of that, our target is to be on the front row and challenging for a win at Silverstone.”
“The changes that they made to the car … if you look at that pace it was a second a lap, basically. To find a second a lap in Formula One through changing some barely secondary parts on the top surface of the floor, which is what we hope they have changed, to give a second a lap in Formula One would be pretty impressive.
“When we arrive in Silverstone we will find out if that is the case, but I’d be pretty surprised if they maintain a second-a-lap gap on the rest of the field. It was a very impressive pace, but ultimately we’ve seen that throughout the field if you get the tyres working properly and you fall into that window then you can generate some enormous amounts of grip and we’ve seen that four or five times this year and Sebastian was definitely bang on the tyres in that first stint. So it’s something reflected in that rather than the car upgrade.”
“In days gone past a driver could be 0.3s or 0.4s off his team-mate and probably drop one or two places due to the spread in the field. So the gap between Lewis and Jenson recently hasn’t been that great in terms of time but it’s been massive in terms of positions. Jenson’s just getting on top of that. He’s showing himself to be very contained and is maintaining his confidence within the team. He’s worked really hard on the simulator and with the engineers to see where he can improve and he’s doing that. The team is fully behind him.
“From a setup point of view they do have differences in setup, Lewis and Jenson. They are there for particular reasons and driving styles, but they are all things that make up the driver. Jenson is a different driver to Lewis, but a very good one at that, as we saw in Melbourne this year. I’m quite sure he’ll regain that soon.”
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