F1: Hamilton laps it up for McLaren on final Barcelona test day

PUBLISHED: 21:53 21 February 2011 | UPDATED: 21:53 21 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 clocked up more than 100 laps as Vodafone McLaren Mercedes shunned outright speed for race performance on the final day of testing in Barcelona.

The 26-year-old Herts-born F1 star wrapped up four days of running at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya, spending the day focusing on tyre development over a series of long runs.

Lewis chalked up a total of 107 laps of the 4.655km track on a warm, dry and sunny test session in Spain.

Despite his best lap time of 1 minute 24.003 seconds being only the fifth quickest of the day, Hamilton’s team described it as “a positive end to our test” after being dogged by reliability problems earlier in the weekend.

Tewin F1 hero Hamilton recorded the new MP4-26’s biggest single-day mileage as the team worked through a lengthy tyre development programme.

The new McLaren Mercedes MP4-26 [Picture courtesy of www.mclaren.com / Patrick Gosling]

McLaren eschewed outright lap times in order to concentrate on fully understanding how the Pirellis behave throughout a race stint.

Test team manager Indy Lall said: “It was very encouraging to log over 100 laps with MP4-26 today – an impressive conclusion to our four days in Barcelona.

“We’re still working through a very lengthy development programme.

“Today wasn’t about pure performance, it was about conducting a disciplined series of long-runs – but it’s been a positive end to our test here.”

The new McLaren MP4-26 [Picture courtesy of www.mclaren.com]

Ferrari driver Felipe Massa topped the unofficial testing times with a best lap of 1m 22.625s ahead of Red Bull racer Mark Webber.

Sebastien Buemi recorded the third best lap time with Nick Heidfeld – the injured Robert Kubica’s replacement in the Lotus-Renault seat – also quicker than Hamilton.

In other F1 news, the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday, March 13 has been called off because of the anti-government protests in the Gulf kingdom.

The final four-day test, also planned for the Bahrain International Circuit at Sakhir next month, has been cancelled for safety reasons and rescheduled for Barcelona, Spain, from March 8.

The 2011 Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on Sunday, March 27 will now be the first Formula 1 race of the new season.

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