Test drive goes well for F1 champion Hamilton in Portugal

PUBLISHED: 13:25 22 January 2009 | UPDATED: 21:58 26 October 2009

2009 McLaren MP4-24 Launch.
McLaren Technology Centre, Woking.
16th January 2009.
Lewis Hamilton, McLaren MP4-24 Mercedes. 
World Copyright: Glenn Dunbar/LAT Photographic
ref: Digital ImageYY8P0025.jpg

2009 McLaren MP4-24 Launch. McLaren Technology Centre, Woking. 16th January 2009. Lewis Hamilton, McLaren MP4-24 Mercedes. World Copyright: Glenn Dunbar/LAT Photographic ref: Digital ImageYY8P0025.jpg

LEWIS Hamilton was back behind the wheel of a Formula 1 car again in Portugal yesterday (Wednesday). The F1 world champion from Tewin returned to the cockpit for his first taste of the 2009 regulations and the McLaren Mercedes team s new MP4-24 car. Lewis

Lewis Hamilton behind the wheel

LEWIS Hamilton was back behind the wheel of a Formula 1 car again in Portugal yesterday (Wednesday).

The F1 world champion from Tewin returned to the cockpit for his first taste of the 2009 regulations and the McLaren Mercedes team's new MP4-24 car.

Lewis said: "It was good to be back working with the team - it felt like I'd hardly been away because it was easy to slip back into the routine.

"It's amazing to think that, while I've been to Woking throughout the winter, I haven't properly driven a Formula 1 car since the Brazilian Grand Prix two months ago, but everything very quickly felt normal today."

Lewis Hamilton

While weather at the Autodromo Internacional do Algarve was markedly improved over the previous two days, the morning remained damp, requiring the continued use of an '08-spec rear wing and intermediate tyres.

The team was briefly hampered at lunchtime by a precautionary engine systems shutdown, which was quickly rectified without the need to change the unit.

In the afternoon, conditions sufficiently improved to allow an '09-spec rear wing and several sets of slicks to be bolted to the car, resulting in Lewis's best time of 1 minute 30.242 seconds.

Although not the fastest of the day at the Portimao circuit, Hamilton was happy with the performance of his 2009 McLaren challenger.

The 24-year-old said: "This first test was all about just getting used to the new car and the new regulations and about giving my feedback to the engineers; it wasn't about setting a fast time.

"I'm pleased to report that the car feels good, we've made lots of progress over the winter and I'm looking forward to developing the car ahead of the Australian Grand Prix."

The first race takes place in Melbourne at the end of March and Hamilton has lots of work to do before stepping out on the Albert Park circuit.

"It's going to be an extremely busy winter," he said.

"I've only been in the car for one day and our usual job list for the weeks ahead is already enormous.

"With the limitations on testing during the season, and the few sessions we have over the next two months, this is going to be an intense time and absolutely critical for every team.

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