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By Alan Davies
, Sports reporter
Thursday, February 9, 2012
FORMULA 1 driver Lewis Hamilton got his first chance to test drive the new McLaren Mercedes 2012 challenger – the MP4-27 – in Spain today (Thursday).
The 27-year-old F1 star from Hertfordshire climbed behind the wheel on day three of official testing at the Circuito de Jerez.
Hamilton took over from Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team-mate Jenson Button, who had conducted the previous two days’ testing.
As with former F1 world champion Button, the first day was about acclimatising Hamilton to the new car, finding a workable set-up direction and ironing out a few minor issues following Lewis’ initial feedback.
After completing 80 laps, and setting a 1m 19.464s best – the fourth fastest of the day, Lewis declared himself happy and comfortable with the new McLaren.
"Today felt pretty good considering it was my first time in the new car."
He said: “Today felt pretty good considering it was my first time in the new car.
“My initial feelings are pretty positive, despite going through a long, tough programme of initial tests – there were no nasty surprises, which is pleasing.
“This year’s car feels a bit different from last year’s: in 2011, we had so much stability from the rear-end, particularly in the high-speed corners – but we’re now having to find that grip elsewhere, or, at least, take grip off the front and somehow offload it at the rear.”
The 2008 world champion added: “This car’s baseline is something we can really work with.
“I know the men and women back at the factory will take a lot from this test and translate it into something new and even better for the next test.
“The car feels reasonably quick – and that’s a nice feeling.”
Nico Rosberg clocked the fastest unofficial testing time today for Mercedes, ahead of Kimi Raikkonen in the Lotus.
Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel recorded 1m 19.297s to finish ahead of Hamilton on the timesheets.
Hamilton will sit in the MP4-27 cockpit again tomorrow (Friday) for the final day of testing in Jerez.