Heikki conducted a single installation lap to evaluate some new bodywork. His first run of the morning (three laps/1m38.483s best) was cut short by traffic and a locked front-right wheel, which flat-spotted the tyre. With the flat-spot compromising efforts, the team shifted emphasis to aero mapping. Heikki completed a final single-lap run before the deteriorating front-right prompted a precautionary halt to proceedings.
"The track grip was immediately good, and less dusty than in Australia," Heikki said. "We've made some good progress with the car's development."
The team switched to longer runs for the afternoon, carrying out a number of longer runs on both the prime and option tyre. Heikki completed four runs, switching between the option and the prime: 10 laps/1m37.640s; 11 laps/1m37.099s; 11 laps/1m36.401s and four laps/1m36.397s.
"As we started pushing, the car started to move around quite a bit and was more difficult to drive," Heikki concluded. "But our consistency over the long runs looks quite promising. I just need some aircon in the car - it's totally boiling!"
Bodywork and aero evaluation filled the morning's programme. Lewis tried some new components, setting a 1m38.009s best on his four-lap baseline run.
"I had no particular issues with the car this morning," he said. "Clearly, we still need a bit more grip but our balance, particularly through the high-speed stuff, felt good. The car felt stronger than I expected." Lewis completed a second run (five laps/1m36.699s) but a final run was curtailed when Lewis hit a bump, locked both wheels and ran wide into the Turn 15 gravel, he continued back to the pits.
With the team following a very disciplined programme throughout the day, neither driver was particularly pushing for a laptime, resulting in Heikki and Lewis finishing the afternoon session in ninth and 11th respectively. Lewis carried out four runs: five laps/1m37.950s; nine laps; 1m37.593s; eight laps/1m36.626s; four laps/1m36.515s. The sweltering conditions required monitoring of MP4-24's cooling systems, particularly the KERS installation, which has not been tested in such extremes, but the two cars ran reliably in both sessions.
Martin Whitmarsh: "Once again, we fully utilised the track time during both Friday practice sessions to refine the bodywork developments we are making to MP4-24 and focus on set-up ahead of Sunday's grand prix - a race we anticipate will be one of the hottest and most demanding of the year. MP4-24 continues to evolve, and today's programme underlines the encouraging progress we feel we are making with the car."
Norbert Haug: "We compared both tyre compounds and posted consistent laptimes. After today, I would not say that we made a step forward but at least it looks as if we are headed in the right direction. The team improved quite a lot since the team test in Barcelona less than a month ago. But everybody inside Vodafone McLaren Mercedes is aware that we still have a lot of work ahead of us until we will be back at the top."