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Valencia day one - Alonso praises new McLaren 18 Jan 2007

Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren Mercedes MP4/22. Formula One Testing, Valencia, Spain, 17 January 2007. World © Sutton Nick Heidfeld (GER) BMW Sauber F1.07 Formula One Testing, Valencia, Spain, 17 January 2007. World © Sutton Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren Mercedes MP4/22. Formula One Testing, Valencia, Spain, 17 January 2007. World © Sutton Robert Kubica (POL) BMW Sauber F1.06. Formula One Testing, Valencia, Spain, 17 January 2007. World © Hartley/Sutton Screens up outside McLaren. Formula One Testing, Valencia, Spain, 17 January 2007. World © Sutton

Fernando Alonso came away from Valencia on Wednesday impressed, after driving McLaren’s 2007 challenger for the first time. Alonso completed 59 laps of the Spanish track during the maiden test of the MP4-22, lapping the circuit in a best time of 1m 12.050s.

"I am very happy after today's shakedown in the MP4-22,” enthused the Spaniard. “We achieved our principle objectives, with regards how the car felt to drive. I am familiar with the MP4-21 as I tested it for one day last year, so there were no great surprises. It has the same philosophy, which is good as I felt comfortable in this car.

“Working with the team so far has been really positive and I feel that the atmosphere is really enthusiastic. Everyone is really focused on preparing the car for the first race and we are approaching the start of the new season in a good way.”

Although a slight oil leak in the car’s new engine hampered progress, the problem was quickly rectified, with Alonso managing to easily complete his programme of initial systems checks. McLaren will return to Valencia next week for a more comprehensive three-day test.

BMW Sauber drivers Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica joined Alonso on track for the day’s running. While Kubica drove the team’s 2006 car, carrying out comparative runs, Heidfeld continued in the F1.07 for a second day, after shaking down the new car on Tuesday.

"One day after the launch this was a very productive day of testing in Valencia with the new BMW Sauber F1.07,” explained BMW Sauber’s technical director, Willy Rampf. “We almost completed our system checks. Beside this Nick started with some set-up work. This had a good impact on the handling of the car. We are happy so far."

BMW Sauber will continue to test alone at the Spanish track on Thursday. With third driver Sebastian Vettel taking charge of the F1.06B, Kubica is expected to get his first chance to drive the team’s 2007 challenger.

Unofficial Wednesday times in Valencia
1. Fernando Alonso, McLaren, 1:12.050
2. Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber, 1:12.169
3. Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber, 1:12.570