De la Rosa gives new McLaren first run

Pedro de la Rosa gave the new McLaren-Mercedes MP4-24 its track debut in a brief shakedown at the Portimao track today

De la Rosa gives new McLaren first run

A day after the team's 2009 title challenger was launched at the McLaren Technology Centre, de la Rosa completed 18 laps of the new circuit, with a best time of 1:28.719.

"It's always an exciting moment when you get behind the wheel of a brand new car for the first time - and, given the extent of the rule changes we've addressed over the winter, today was more tense than usual," said the veteran test driver.

"However, I'm happy to report that the car behaved just as we believed it would from our data and we carried out a number of runs, gaining in confidence as we ran through a number of systems checks.

"Obviously, we have yet to really push the MP4-24 to its limits and we will start running more laps on Monday but this was a constructive start and has given us some confidence."

McLaren had sole use of the Portuguese track today, but will be joined by the majority of their rivals for next week's four-day group test. De la Rosa will stay in the car for Monday and Tuesday, with race drivers Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen then getting one day apiece.

"Given the limits on testing this year, it's now essential that we work productively in order to develop the car ahead of the first race of the season," de la Rosa added. "We have a busy few weeks ahead of us but everyone within the team is really looking forward to the work ahead."

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