Fresh from Friday's launch at the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking, McLaren test driver Pedro de la Rosa gave the brand new MP4-24 car its first track test at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve test facility in Portugal.
After a delayed start to the day, the test team completed 18 laps in a private test, Pedro setting a best time of 1:28.719 on his 13th lap. The Spaniard resumes the car's pre-season programme at Portimao on Monday and Tuesday before handing over to Lewis Hamilton on Wednesday. Heikki Kovalainen will conclude the four-day test session on Thursday.
"It's always an exciting moment when you get behind the wheel of a brand new car for the first time," said de la Rosa, "and, given the extent of the rule changes we've addressed over the winter, today was more tense than usual. However, I'm happy to report that the car behaved just as we believed it would from our data and we carried out a number of runs, gaining in confidence as we ran through a number of systems checks.
"Obviously, we have yet to really push the MP4-24 to its limits and we will start running more laps on Monday but this was a constructive start and has given us some confidence. Given the limits on testing this year, it's now essential that we work productively in order to develop the car ahead of the first race of the season. We have a busy few weeks ahead of us but everyone within the team is really looking forward to the work ahead."