Williams performance chief Rob Smedley says his team is watching out for McLaren after being impressed by Kevin Magnussen's performance in qualifying for Formula 1's German Grand Prix. Smedley, whose drivers Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa qualified second and third, said Magnussen's performance had caught his attention during the final part of the session.
"The midfield is very tight. If you look at what Kevin Magnussen did today it was very impressive - I was probably watching him more than I was watching our two cars in Q3!" Smedley said. "It was energising for all the people down at McLaren. It's a big team that you have to pay a lot of respect to, that can come back at you very, very quickly."
Indeed, McLaren have brought along several upgrades to Hockenheim, but it seems to be Magnussen, rather than Button, who is benefitting:
McLaren upgraded its car for Germany, including a new rear wing, and the team's racing director Eric Boullier said Magnussen had benefited from this, the removal of FRIC suspension, and the constant improvement it has made across the season.
"Every race we bring a couple of tenths and the package has started to work," Boullier explained. "Silverstone was a little bit more optimistic thanks to the weather, but already the car was delivering something better. If you look back over Canada and Austria maybe you didn't see so much, but all these races we keep bringing parts and downforce, and coming back to a normal track layout you just step up a couple of positions. [Also] our FRIC system was not as extreme as maybe some other teams."
Jenson Button reckons he could not have matched Kevin's pace today:
"I've struggled most of this weekend to find a balance," Button explained. "A lot of it was to do with braking. We changed the car quite a bit for qualifying and it was much better, but obviously it's very late in the day to start making big changes, so we couldn't tweak it through qualifying. I think we could have got into the top 10 - I had traffic from [Romain] Grosjean in the last sector that cost me a couple of tenths - but I don't think I would have had Kevin's pace."