McLaren still behind as ’09 testing ends

Testing for the 2009 Formula One season came to an end today leaving McLaren with just over a week at their factory headquarters in Woking to develop their car before flying out to Melbourne.

The team have endured a difficult few months of testing with Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen lapping over a second off the pace at times after a troublesome new aero package was fitted to the MP4-24.

Kovalainen brought McLaren closer to the front of the timesheets in Jerez this week after the team made some aerodynamic modifications to their car. But the MP4-24 still appears to be suffering from a performance shortfall; the Finn was outpaced by the Williams of Kazuki Nakajima on the final day of testing at the Spanish circuit.

Nakajima’s best time of 1:17.494 was comfortably the fastest time of the week, over three tenths of a second faster than Jenson Button’s benchmark time on Tuesday.

Williams Technical Director Sam Michael commented: “Kazuki was back in the cockpit today working through last minute reliability and performance items that required sign-off for Melbourne.”

“We have put over 8,000kms on the FW31 in the last two months and, while there are always areas that require attention, reliability has been good.

“We ve also been working hard with Toyota to achieve good reliability on the engine s working range, which has been subject to a reduction in revs but an increase in mileage. Considering the time we ve had to do this, the work has gone well.”

There will be no further testing this year due to a ban on in-season testing. This could come as a blow to McLaren who have admitted that it could be a couple of races before they have the pace to challenge for race victories.

However, the team have been encouraged by the progress made in Jerez this week.

“New components, which arrived from the McLaren Technology Centre overnight, were fitted to the car for today s session receiving productive feedback,” the team disclosed in their testing notes today.

Today’s times:

Pos Driver Team Time Laps
1. Nakajima Williams-Toyota (B) 1:17.494 102
2. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes (B) 1:17.946 84

All Timing Unofficial