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McLaren will run third car in 2005 25 Jan 2005

Kimi Raikkonen (FIN), McLaren Mercedes MP4-20. McLaren Mercedes MP4-20 First Test, Barcelona, Spain. 24 January 2005. World © SUTTON

The McLaren team have confirmed that they intend to take full advantage of the rule that allows them to use a third car in Friday practice sessions this season.

Under the FIA regulations any team that finished outside the top four in the previous year’s constructors’ championship may run an additional chassis. McLaren were fifth in 2004, making them eligible for the first time.

The third car, which BAR used to great effect last season on their way to second in the championship, could be even more of an asset this year thanks to more stringent engine regulations which limit each driver to one engine for every two race weekends.

“There are obvious benefits to be gained as the third driver can do tyre comparison and chassis setup work without worrying about engine miles,” McLaren’s Formula One CEO Martin Whitmarsh told the team’s official website. “In theory that means that the other drivers don’t have to run as many miles as those in other leading teams.”

An extra bonus for McLaren is the fact that both their full-time test drivers, Alexander Wurz and Pedro de la Rosa, are eligible to drive on Friday. The rules exclude anyone who has driven six or more grands prix in the past two years.

“We’ll have an experienced driver piloting the car,” added Whitmarsh. “You’ve got to have someone who’s an integral part of your development programme.”

McLaren’s 2005 car, the MP4-20, completed its first day of testing in Barcelona on Monday, with Kimi Raikkonen reporting positive first impressions. Testing continues all week, with Juan Pablo Montoya due to take over the new car from Raikkonen on Thursday.