F1: Hamilton’s testing schedule ahead for McLaren Mercedes
PUBLISHED: 17:37 01 February 2011 | UPDATED: 13:54 04 February 2011
LEWIS Hamilton climbs behind the wheel of a Formula 1 car again tomorrow (Wednesday) in Spain.
The Herts-born F1 driver starts pre-season testing in Valencia with the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team.
Test driver Gary Paffett took the wheel today (Tuesday) at the Ricardo Tormo circuit.
With the team’s new MP4-26 not unveiled to the world’s media until Friday in Germany, McLaren are still running last season’s MP4-25 chassis in Spain this week.
McLaren engineers’ first task is to learn as much as possible about the new Pirelli tyre family.
That’s why the team is using a car the drivers already know plenty about – the MP4-25.
Paffett completed 91 laps of the track using one of last year’s cars and was third fastest on the unofficial timesheets behind Red Bull’s reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel and Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg.
“The car we ran today ought to allow us to get the right loadings on the Pirellis to understand how they behave,” said Paffett afterwards.
“The tyres have changed since we last ran them in Abu Dhabi last year, and they’ll change again before the start of the season.
“Today was about trying to understand the tyres – we established a good baseline and then did some long runs.
“Happily, the wear issues we experienced in Abu Dhabi have definitely improved; we saw better wear patterns and fewer problems with the tyres.
“It’s useful to understand how the tyres go off, and how the balance changes once they do. The Medium seems to last the longest and the Super-soft the shortest, but that’s exactly what you want from a tyre – and it should lead to different strategies once we start racing.”
Hamilton takes over at the wheel tomorrow (Wednesday) and will continue McLaren’s programme of understanding and developing the new Pirelli rubber.
Former world champion Jenson Button is pencilled in to drive on Thursday.
Following the launch of McLaren’s 2011 challenger in Berlin at noon on Friday, Lewis will enjoy the first scheduled run of the MP4-26 in Jerez, Spain, on Thursday, February 10.
He will then alternate with Button behind the wheel over the remainder of the four-day test.
Button will assume testing duties for the first two days in Barcelona the following week, with 26-year-old Hamilton taking charge on February 20-21.
The final four-day test session will convene in Bahrain from March 3, with Button and Hamilton again sharing responsibilities on alternate days.
The 2011 season starts with the Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday, March 13.
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