Lewis Hamilton expects McLaren to be competitive again in Monza next week after his Belgian Grand Prix ended in the wall.
After locking out the front row and taking second place in Valencia, Spa-Francorchamps turned out to be a weekend to forget for McLaren as Lewis Hamilton got punted into retirement on the first lap, while the best Heikki Kovalainen could manage was sixth place.
To make matters worse, the Woking team was put in the shade by their technical partners Force India with whom they have developed a gearbox and engine unit.
The strength of the McLaren package in the high speed sections at Spa bodes well for Monza, where KERS will once again come into play, but the team will be trying to learn everything they can about the Force India’s handling through the high-speed corners, a persistent weakness of the MP4-24.
That will be less of an issue at Monza where the high speed straights lead on from chicanes, and Lewis Hamilton expects to be right in the hunt.
“We know we ve taken huge steps with the car since the start of the summer, but it s frustrating that we didn t get to see our race pace at Spa on Sunday,” he said. “But we ve got a low-downforce package for Monza and some more upgrades ahead of Singapore, so I think we ll be in the hunt among the frontrunners.
“The most important thing is that we keep learning from this year s car so we can make next year s into a winner.â€
McLaren’s KERS unit will also be decisive, particularly in qualifying where it can be applied twice on the start/finish straight.
“We ll arrive at the circuit with a bespoke high-speed aerodynamic package. It will be another interesting test for MP4-24 as we continue to develop the car it will be useful to understand how it works in a low-downforce set-up,” confirmed McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh. “Of course, Monza is notable for being a power circuit, and, with KERS, we should see some incredible speeds particularly during qualifying when the drivers will double-deploy KERS along the start/finish straight.â€
Heikki Kovalainen echoed: “I think our car will be reasonably well suited to the circuit. Like every team, we ll be running a special low-downforce aero package in Italy but we ll also have the benefit of using KERS along the straights, which should give us a greater advantage over a single lap, especially in qualifying, where it will be extremely valuable. It should be fun!â€