September 6th, 2013 (F1Plus / Chris Cameron-Dow) - If qualifying is unimportant at any circuit, it's Monza. Even with today's Formula One cars, the Italian Grand Prix typically serves up more than it's fair share of slip-streaming overtaking moves. So it comes as no surprise that McLaren are more concerned about maximising their race pace than securing single-digit grid positions this weekend.
McLaren drivers Jenson Button and Sergio Perez both expressed their satisfaction with what the team achieved in Friday practice. Aside from a DRS issue on Button's car in FP1 - the DRS stuck open - the day proceeded without incident and the team was able to gather data that will now be analysed in order to make setup choices tomorrow.
Button said after Friday practice:
"It’s always fun to drive around such a fast circuit. You don’t really feel the speed, it’s more about getting used to the extremely low downforce set-up that we run around here.
“Early on in FP1, my DRS stuck open – we use a completely different DRS system for Monza because it’s a low-downforce circuit. The mechanism stuck open in the shroud – which was a mistake – but it was quickly fixed by the guys in the garage.
“Despite that problem, FP1 was actually better for us than FP2, when we weren’t quite as competitive. Nevertheless, there’s a little bit more pace in the car that I hope we’ll be able to extract – so it would be nice to get through to Q3.
“We changed quite a bit between the sessions today, and we think we know what works and what doesn’t. It was a positive day in terms of understanding the car, actually.
“There are a lot of cars only narrowly ahead of us – it’s extremely close out there. So we’re going to work as hard as we can overnight. Having said that, we know that the race will be more important than qualifying.”
Button finished FP2 ninth fastest, just over a second off the pace, and just under a tenth quicker than Perez, who said after the day was over:
“We managed to complete a very positive programme during both of today’s sessions.
“In fact, we got through everything on our job-list today, which is a real positive. As always at Monza, we tried varying levels of downforce – that’s an important thing to get right here – but it’s a very difficult decision to make around here.
“Clearly, we need to make the right call for Sunday. In fact, as Jenson says, I don’t really feel that qualifying tomorrow will be quite as important as it usually is; the key for us will be to engineer ourselves a good set-up, with a good strategy, for Sunday.
“So, in actual fact, we’ll spend more time thinking about Sunday, and not so much looking at tomorrow. I’m not even too focused on getting into Q3, because I know our main aim will be about how we manage everything on Sunday.”