Whitmarsh: Wind direction critical

By on Friday, April 20, 2012

Martin Whitmarsh © Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

FIA - McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh explained after practice that judging wind speed and direction will be a crucial factor in set-up for the Bahrain Grand Prix.

Despite heading the order on Friday morning, McLaren were almost a second off the pace in the afternoon. Whitmarsh, speaking in the FIA press conference explained the team were not happy with their level of grip but also struggled in changeable winds. “I think it’s been a tricky day,” he said. “The wind changed direction: I think from about half way through that [afternoon] session there was a tailwind through turns four, five, six and seven, which made it quite tricky for the drivers. I think we weren’t happy with where we were in terms of grip, generally. But that’s what Friday is about. It’s about learning how to set the car up for this particular circuit and these particular conditions. I think the wind is going to be quite significant. It often is here.”

Wind direction obviously has an affect on end of straight speed, and therefore plays a significant role in the choice of gear ratios – but a changeable wind inevitably makes that choice difficult. “If you recall it is an island where the wind can change quite dramatically from 10 o’clock in the morning until midday and then drop off in the afternoon,” continued the McLaren team principal. “It makes the selection of top gear for the race and for qualifying an interesting challenge and if you get that right I think you’ll be in good shape. Overall I think we’ve got some reasonable data and the trick is to put that to good effect and make sure we can dial it in and have a competitive car tomorrow.”

Whitmarsh’s comments were echoed by Lewis Hamilton who was fastest in the morning but could only manage fourth quickest in the afternoon. “Wind direction…played a huge role today. On one lap, there’d be a headwind going into Turn Four, the next lap, it’d be a tailwind, then a crosswind. And that makes a big difference around the circuit. I think my fastest lap was set half an hour after Nico [Rosberg] set the fastest time of the session, and the wind was very different. “In general, Mercedes looks quick. We’re there or thereabouts, but we’ll know more tomorrow. Overall, a tough day; a tough challenge, but we’re all in the same boat.”

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