McLaren pleased with first tests

The first week of testing for the new McLaren-Mercedes MP4-20 has been declared a success by the team, despite some difficulties with conditions at the Catalunya circuit

McLaren pleased with first tests

Extremely cold weather and even some light snowfall early in the week, plus continued problems with the recently resurfaced track, provided an extra challenge for drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Juan Pablo Montoya.

"It was the same situation with the freezing track this morning, but once it warmed up we were able to complete some long runs," said Montoya at the end of Friday's session. "Everything is going well and it has been a good first test, however until we get the car to Australia and start racing there is no point in making any predictions."

"The fact that the circuit has been resurfaced recently is causing any team that comes here some difficulties, because it is more difficult to determine the pace," added Ron Dennis. "This week has been more difficult because the circuit was heavily wetted for wet testing last week and it was quite dirty.

"However we are going through all the checks that you would make with a new car. Testing in earnest won't really start until next week."

McLaren had exclusive use of the Barcelona track until Friday, when Ferrari and Sauber arrived to begin a weekend of testing. Montoya ended the day third quickest behind Ferrari tester Luca Badoer in a 2004 chassis, and Michael Schumacher in the hybrid Ferrari F2004 M that the team will use for the first four races of the season. Aside from a minor incident when Montoya misjudged the entry to his pit box and clipped some mechanics (without causing any injuries), the test went smoothly for McLaren - with the new car covering more than 1,100 kilometres.

"On both Thursday and Friday Juan Pablo covered more than one grand prix distance," said Mercedes' Norbert Haug. "All the tests were run with one engine and this ran like clockwork. Despite the track conditions not being at all ideal, rather impressive times were achieved."

Raikkonen was entrusted with the first three days of testing in the new car, before Montoya took over on Thursday, and the Finn was equally content with initial progress.

"It is still quite early to say, but I am happy with the car," said Raikkonen. "We have made a few changes to it during the test and the lap times are getting better, so I am happy."

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