Qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix is complete and Alonso has delighted the “tifosi” by topping the timesheets to claim pole position for his team’s home grand prix. His team-mate also gets a good start tomorrow, having qualified 3rd.
However an interesting situation is brewing at the McLaren garage: both drivers decided to have different set-ups for the qualifying season and the results has been significant enough to cause some head-scratching.
Button, the current World Champion, who is the newbie at McLaren, decided to run the ‘F-Duct’ device during this afternoon’s session. The F-Duct, pioneered by McLaren cuts drag and helps with straight-line acceleration. He describes his set-up as having higher downforce (@ 00.56s in this clip).
On the other hand, Hamilton decided to ditch the device, having found no significant advantage over the practice sessions on Friday. This meant his set-up was of a lower downforce than his team-mate’s and meant the corners were tricky for him. He would later describe his car as “sliding everywhere“.
In Q1, where the slowest 7 drivers are knocked out, Lewis posted a time of 1:22.830, 0.255s faster than Button. In Q2, Button was faster than his team-mate by just 0.04s. In Q3, where the top 10 drivers’ starting position for the race tomorrow is decided, Button dramatically increased his gap to Lewis by 0.539seconds!
Button starts in 2nd place tomorrow, while Hamilton starts in fifth. We do not know how much of an effect tyre-choice or the increasing track temperature might have played but it does seem like one side of the McLaren garage will be head-scratching overnight. Nonetheless, the race is tomorrow and we all know how different race day is to the qualifying sessions.
(image from PlanetF1.com)