By Alan Davies
The Herts-born F1 driver climbs into the McLaren cockpit for the final day of pre-season testing in Spain knowing the team’s 2011 challenger is still struggling out on track.
Hamilton’s team-mate, former world champion Jenson Button, completed just 57 laps of the Circuit de Catalunya on day three of the concluding Barcelona test.
After a one-day hiatus, the McLaren Mercedes team resumed its final pre-season test, but an unhappy Button could only post the 13th best unofficial lap time.
He was more than four seconds slower than Michael Schumacher, who was fastest today ahead of Ferrari rival Felipe Massa and Mercedes GP colleague Nico Rosberg.
Former F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton at the McLaren MP4-26 car launch in Berlin [Picture courtesy of www.mclaren.com]Afterwards Jenson said: “As today was my final day of testing, it was disappointing not to be able to put more mileage on the car.
“But I think we learnt some positive things: today was never about pace, as we weren’t running lower fuel-loads, but there is pace in the car – it’s just been masked by reliability issues.”
For the penultimate day of running, Button spent the morning going through pitstop practices and completing some flow-vis aerodynamic tests.
The focus then switched to a number of evaluation runs using the ‘porpoise nose’ measuring equipment mounted to the nosecone.
Despite stopping just before lunch for a precautionary engine change, the team was able to complete its morning programme.
Making a late return to the track after lunch, the team carried out a number of short runs as it continued learning about the new Pirelli tyres.
Button has now turned his attentions to the season-opening 2011 Australian Grand Prix on Sunday, March 27.
He said: “Now, I’m looking forward to Melbourne: you can’t under-estimate a team as determined as Vodafone McLaren Mercedes. We’re all pulling together and we’ve got some interesting developments in the pipeline.”
For Hamilton and Button to challenge for serious points in Australia in a fortnight’s time, those developments need to work – and fast!