From first to … not first. What happened to McLaren today?

After putting in a strong first practice, McLaren’s world champion duo sputtered quite a bit in the afternoon’s second practice.

2008 champ Lewis Hamilton summed things up this way: “[I]t’s just like being on an ice rink out there. It’s so slippery.”

Both Hamilton and 2009 champ Jenson Button are sounding a bit befuddled about what the difference was between their dominant morning session, with Jenson first and Lewis third, and the afternoon effort that ended with Lewis in seventh and Jenson well back in 11th.

Here’s some more Lewis on the car’s troubles in the afternoon:

“We’re not pulling away down the straights, we have quite a lot of bottoming. There are areas we can improve on, we just have to do a big debrief now and figure out where we want to go with the car tomorrow.

“But it’s a bit of an unknown, because we tried a few things and the car was just as bad, if not worse.”

Jenson sounds even more annoyed than his partner:

“I don’t know, we need to find out, because we were competitive this morning, maybe running less fuel than most people, but,” Button said of his problems in the second session.

“This afternoon I struggled with the balance a little bit, instability under braking.

“Then on the long runs it was a little bit emotional out there. The tyres aren’t lasting very long. I ran with the Option tyre at the end with heavy fuel and it grained so much I came in, put the primes and went two or three seconds quicker than the other cars, which were running Option.

“Still, I started graining as well. We’ve got a few tyre issues, everyone is struggling with the same thing, so I think it will be a pretty interesting race to see what happens with strategies.”

“A little bit emotional.” That’s some good talking around the issue, isn’t it? At some point during the session, I saw a quote from Lewis that was something along the lines of: “I’m going to crash this car if we don’t get off these tires.”

It sounds like the track is really just ravaging tires, which could make for a very interesting race on Sunday, and maybe even some unexpected qualifying action. Lewis does note that the Red Bulls seemed to be the easiest on the tires, which could be a factor, but at this point it sure seems like there won’t be any repeats of Fernando Alonso essentially running an entire race on the same set of tires.

I wonder if we’ll even have to see a second stop this weekend as drivers require a third set of tires.

Did anyone see anything from the practices that gives you insight into how the weekend might go?

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