F1: Hamilton back testing in McLaren MP4-26 cockpit

PUBLISHED: 22:34 11 February 2011 | UPDATED: 09:53 16 February 2011

Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button with the new McLaren MP4-26 [Picture courtesy of www.mclaren.com]

Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button with the new McLaren MP4-26 [Picture courtesy of www.mclaren.com]

HOCH ZWEI / Michael Kunkel

FORMULA One driver Lewis Hamilton returns to the cockpit of the new McLaren MP4-26 for day three of testing in Jerez tomorrow (Saturday).

Former F1 world champions Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton at the McLaren MP4-26 car launch in Berlin [Picture courtesy of www.mclaren.com]

The Herts-born grand prix ace handed over testing duties to Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team-mate Jenson Button in Spain on Friday.

Former F1 world champion Button completed 69 laps of the Circuito de Jerez, recording the third best unofficial time of the day behind Mercedes GP’s Michael Schumacher, who was fastest overall, and Ferrari’s Felipe Massa.

This was Jenson’s first day behind the wheel of the MP4-26 challenger.

As yesterday, when Lewis drove the car for the first time, the morning was largely spent acclimatising to the 2011 machine, finding a perfect fit and making small improvements to driver ergonomics and comfort.

After another lunchtime strip-down, the engineers began a more concerted programme of running in the afternoon – albeit one punctuated by several lengthy red-flag stoppages.

At the end of the day, the team evaluated a number of further set-up changes, leaving Jenson – like Lewis – feeling positive about the MP4-26’s potential.

Button said: “The morning was spent getting me satisfactorily fitted in the car, adapting to the hybrid – which is new to me – and getting used to how the system works. I like the power boost it gives you.

“I felt a lot more comfortable with the car at the end of the day after we’d played around with a few things in the cockpit. We’ve made some good progress.”

Hamilton will take the wheel again on day three in Jerez.

The 2008 F1 world champion from Tewin has also sent a special message of support to Robert Kubica after the Polish Renault driver’s horror crash in the Andorra Rally.

On social networking site Twitter, Hamilton tweeted: “My thoughts n prayers go out to robert kubica n his family, F1 will miss him for the beginning of the year but no doubt he’ll be bk. Bless”

The opening race of the 2011 season will be the Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday, March 13.

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