New McLaren gets seal of approval

McLaren`s new contender for this season`s Formula One championship has been given the thumbs up by world title holder Lewis Hamilton after testing in Portugal.

After 81 laps of the Portimao circuit in his MP4-24 he declared himself satisfied with the car`s new-for-2009 aero package and slick tyres.

In the build-up to the season`s opener in Melbourne on March 29, the Woking-based team has also stepped up work on a new kinetic-energy recovery system that other teams have also adopted.

Timesheets were headed by Toro Rosso new boy Sebastien Buemi, who finished almost two seconds clear of second-placed Nico Rosberg (Williams), who was a full half-second clear of the McLaren.

But said Hamilton: "I'm pleased to report that the car feels good, we've made lots of progress over the winter and I'm looking forward to developing the car ahead of the Australian Grand Prix.

"This first test was all about just getting used to the new car and the new regulations and about giving my feedback to the engineers.

"With the limitations on testing during the season, and the few sessions we have over the next two months, this is going to be an intense time and absolutely critical for every team."

Copyright © Press Association 2009