Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button look set to be running very different McLarens for the rest of the weekend in Italy after experimenting today.
In the afternoon session Hamilton ran a car with a standard ultra low drag Monza wing, and no F-Duct, while Button stuck with the F-Duct and a much larger wing than would normally be used at Monza.
Amazingly they produced lap times that were just 0.056s apart in that session – with Hamilton just ahead – but they did so in different ways, with Lewis as expected producing a higher top speed but having less downforce available in the corners.
Sources say that each driver feels happiest with what he ran and they have decided to stick with it, and while there has been no confirmation from the team as of 10pm tonight the cars were still being prepared with the same wings on.
It makes for a fascinating technical experiment as we see which one ultimately works out in qualifying and the race. In theory Button’s will be kinder on the tyres because his car will be sliding less, but other teams say degradation is not an issue. Equally his car could be more stable under braking, especially with a full fuel load, as he has a bit more downforce.
Although clearly their plans could change between Saturday morning practice and qualifying, that would seem to be highly unlikely.
“It felt fairly similar,” said Hamilton after the session. “We have two levels for us. One is slower down the straights and quicker through the corners and the other is quicker down the straights and slower through the corners, and they pretty much balance themselves out.
“It’s really trying to decide which one’s better on high fuel, and whether there’s more potential out of one or the other. We have to really to look at the data. And the balance of the car is not the same for the both of them as well, so it’s trying to optimise that. We have to decide tonight what we’re going to do tomorrow.
“I think it’s going to be a tough battle for me and Jenson against the rest, as clearly they’ve shown great pace. But I believe we can do it. Tomorrow will tell in terms of pace through P3 and then obviously going into qualifying.”