McLaren hope for performance lift in tight midfield pack in Barcelona

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McLaren is hoping overnight changes can bring them back into contention after a tricky Friday at the Spanish Grand Prix.

Carlos Sainz managed to claim seventh fastest in the afternoon in Barcelona, but struggled with ongoing cooling issues compared to teammate Lando Norris, this despite the team bringing a new chassis for the Madrid-native this weekend.

“At the moment, we haven’t really solved the issue, we still see some discrepancies across the two cars,” he said.

“My car, obviously we’re having to run with more cooling on the car which obviously costs more lap time around here. So still not fully into the bottom of the problem – we need to keep searching.

“It’s a big question mark that we haven’t found [the answer to] and we’ve changed pretty much everything on the car and we’re starting to run out of things to try," he conceded.

“Hopefully we can find the last thing or the main thing which will give us the final answer, but at the moment it’s tricky.”

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One of the main topics in practice was tyres, as teams adapted to the highest temperatures they've ever encountered at this circuit due to the delayed race date.

But with Pirelli bringing harder compounds, Sainz does believe the situation will be better than last weekend.

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“We don’t see the blistering we saw in Silverstone so there’s potentially a bit more scope on the tyres, a bit more margin, but we do see quite a lot of degradation – we see quite a lot of overheating on the tyres – so it’s going to be a tricky weekend," he explained. 

“At the moment we are still not on top of the issues with the tyres and we want to keep improving for the race."

Indeed, on that topic, Norris was pretty brutal in his assessment of the C1 tyre.

"Garbage. I felt like I had more grip on the wets, I don't know why," said the Briton, who was a disappointing 14th on Friday afternoon.

"I think it was similar for everyone. Any time anyone was on the hard tyre they looked awful and then they went on the medium or the soft and improved massively. I don't think it's just us.

"The balance is just about okay on the soft and the medium, but as soon as you put the hards on it feels terrible, but that's the way it is."


As for his own performance, Norris is hopeful of making a step on Saturday, but noted just how competitive it was in the midfield, with Romain Grosjean surprising many in P5 for Haas.

"It was a good day trying some of the things which we wanted to work on after Silverstone," he said.

"We got a good understanding going into tomorrow, ready to make some changes that we think will help so feeling relatively confident but as you saw it was very close between fourth to last.

"Haas always do well here, more than other tracks and of course Renault are there too so more and more people are climbing into that top 10.

"It's going to make our life much harder to get into Q3, but that might not be the worst thing come Sunday."