Australia GP: McLarens 1-2 in practice 2
Were they sandbagging? After a mediocre preseason, McLaren finished 1-2 in the second practice session for the Australian Grand Prix as Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton were the only men to break through the 1m25s barrier.
|Jenson Button tops session 2|
Whether or not McLaren's pace is a true measure of the overall picture remains unclear however, for Red Bull's drivers, who dominated session one, were instructed not to use their adjustable rear wings for much of the session.
In the end, Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber on the Option tires, could do no better than 4th and 5th behind Fernando Alonso's Ferrari, which ended the session third.
Michael Schumacher improved to sixth fastest in the Mercedes, having been fastest of all for a while. Felipe Massa, one of several drivers to run off-track during the session, was seventh.
"Today showed that, first of all, we've got reliability - which is great," said Button.
"That's something we've not had all winter, so to have a car that runs for as many laps as we want it to is very satisfying. It also means we can get stuck into our set-up work and improve the car.
"I don't think there's much to be gained from looking at today's times though, so 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 and get a good feeling for the car on different fuel-loads."
McLaren arrived in Melbourne with a new exhaust system fixed to their MP4-26. The design is similar to that used by Ferrari and Red Bull and Button reckons it's a huge part of McLaren's improved pace.
"The new exhaust has definitely brought performance to the car - it feels much better, makes the handling more 'complete'.
"When you have downforce at the rear, you can also add it at the front, and then you put temperature in the tires - there's so much that comes with downforce.
"I'm so happy with how hard the guys have worked and what they've brought to this race - they've worked really hard and they've delivered something good here.
"We don't yet know how good, but we're encouraged by the step we've made today."