Lewis Hamilton is staying calm about the performance of his McLaren team despite a difficult first day of work ahead of the British Grand Prix.
McLaren has introduced a big upgrade package that it hopes will help close the gap to rival Red Bull in terms of performance. However, Red Bull dominated today's practice sessions at Silverstone, with Hamilton finishing down in eighth, over 1.5sec off pacesetter Mark Webber. The Briton said nonetheless that he felt the updates were a step forward and he is expecting things to be much closer on Saturday.
"I definitely feel we've made a step forward from Valencia," Hamilton said after practice. "This is a track a bit like Barcelona, where you'd see nearly a second gap between ourselves and Red Bull. I don't think we will be seeing that gap. I think tomorrow will be a lot closer. If we get the car set up right then we should have no problems."
He added: "We put on the new components and I was quite excited this morning and the feeling of the car was quite positive. I was actually surprised about the pace that we had this morning. We made some changes and setup wise they didn't make the car better, but sometimes you find that's the case. So, we are going to go back to the setup we had before and start from there again and hopefully tomorrow the setup will be better. But generally I think the performance of the car is good."
Teammate Jenson Button admitted he was disappointed with his day after struggling with the handling of the car.
"Today's been a little bit trickier than expected in the car," said Button, 13th quickest. "First of all I couldn't get a setup for the car with the new package, but it improved at the end of the day, but there's still a lot of work we need to do. We are not where we'd like to be. The car is very tricky in a few places around the circuit.
"We've definitely made some improvements in certain places, but we don't have the right balance yet. I haven't had a perfect day today, which is disappointing because even on a Friday it's good to see so many people out there."
Team boss Martin Whitmarsh said the day had been hard for McLaren, but insisted the team needs time to make all the updates work.
"It was a difficult day for us," he said. "We're exploring the car. I wouldn't say that for a lot of the time the drivers were that comfortable today but we were learning and we will take that data and see what we can do with it this evening. The issue is, often when you are developing the car you are incrementally bringing downforce to the car so the balance of the car and the setup characteristics don't change dramatically. With the changes that we are evolving on the cars, it requires perhaps a different approach, a different driving style, different setups.
"In the era when there is not much testing, that's quite difficult to nail with a limited number of tires and laps to do it in. That's the modern era of F1 and we've got to take all of the data that we've got today, make some decision of what we've got to do and hopefully get it right.
"Parts were still arriving at 1:30 this morning. There are a lot of new components on the car and people have worked incredibly long hours day and night just to get those bits here. It's a big effort. We had a number of different parts on the car today and we've got to make sure that we've got the best package that we can provide to our drivers tomorrow."