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Positive start for De la Rosa in new McLaren 19 Jan 2009

Pedro De La Rosa (ESP) McLaren Mercedes 2009 Interim Car Formula One Testing, Day Two, Autodromo Algarve, Portimao, Portugal, Monday 19 January 2009. Pedro De La Rosa (ESP) McLaren Mercedes 2009 Interim Car Formula One Testing, Day Two, Autodromo Algarve, Portimao, Portugal, Monday 19 January 2009. Pedro De La Rosa (ESP) McLaren Mercedes 2009 Interim Car Formula One Testing, Day Two, Autodromo Algarve, Portimao, Portugal, Monday 19 January 2009.

Tester Pedro de la Rosa was at the wheel of McLaren’s 2009 challenger in Portugal on Saturday as the MP4-24 was given its first-ever run, following its Friday launch. Despite a delayed start to the day, De la Rosa covered 18 laps of the Portimao circuit and set a best time of 1m 28.719s.

"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, it was more tense than usual,” said the Spaniard. “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. 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. We have a busy few weeks ahead of us but everyone within the team is really looking forward to the work ahead.”

De la Rosa will continue to test at the Algarve Motor Park on Monday and Tuesday, before handing over to reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton on Wednesday. Team mate Heikki Kovalainen will then get his first taste of the new car on Thursday.