Following Monday's launch in Stuttgart, the McLaren MP4-23, made its track debut at the Circuito de Jerez in southern Spain today.
The team had two of its 2008 cars in action, with driving duties falling to Heikki Kovalainen and Pedro de la Rosa, who were at the wheel of chassis 2 and chassis 1 respectively. Pedro took to the track for the first time at 09:05, with Heikki leaving the garage in his MP4-23 at 14:19.
Pedro's car was the chassis at the event in Stuttgart. It was completed at the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking on Sunday afternoon before being transported to the launch. At 02:00am on the morning of Tuesday 8th, the car left Stuttgart airport for Jerez. The McLaren test team took receipt of the car early on Tuesday morning in Spain and spent the day preparing the MP4-23 for today's running.
Heikki's car left the McLaren Technology Centre on Tuesday 8th and travelled directly to Jerez, arriving at the earliest possible opportunity when the local airport opened at 06:00 this morning. During the course of the morning the test team worked to install the set-up on the car prior to Heikki taking to the track at 14:19.
This week's test is a private session, allowing the team to achieve its filming and photographic requirements with the MP4-23 alongside the test programme. This will focus on familiarisation with the car and running through a range of installation and set-up checks.
The team will remain in Jerez until Wednesday 16th January before moving onto Valencia from Tuesday 22nd January.
"It was really great to get on track today with the MP4-23," said Heikki Kovalainen following his McLaren debut. "I always really enjoy the first day a new car runs, there is always a very unique atmosphere, you know a little bit tense, a little bit excited. The first impressions of the new car are good. We have a comprehensive development schedule to work through over the next couple of months. The car's performance today is definitely an encouraging starting point. Today was also my first real opportunity to meet the test team, which was good because we will be spending a lot of time together over the next few weeks!"
"We covered 69 laps in total today between Heikki and me, which is a good start," added de la Rosa. "The car felt positive and it has been an encouraging day. This is the second time I have had the opportunity to make the track debut with our new car, it is also the eighth car I have driven for the team. It is great for me to be in the car from the very beginning, as I am able to instantly build up an understanding of the car and how it works, and then start to put this knowledge into the testing programme. This time of the season, from when a new car is launched until the first race, is probably the busiest time of the year for the test team. We have 18 track days scheduled, including today, before the MP4-23s leave for Australia and a lot of work to complete in that time, but the motivation is huge with all the guys here."
Today's Times - All Times Unofficial
|de la Rosa||McLaren||B||40||1:19.655||124.351 mph|