Kevin Magnussen puts the MP4-29 through its paces
After enduring their worst season in 30 years of a distinguished history in Formula One, there was much hype surrounding the launch of the new McLaren MP4-29.
But unlike the glamorous razzmatazz that came with last year and seasons before, McLaren played down expectations with a subdued online launch.
The team must have thought it a wise decision, then, when Jenson Button was forced to sit out the entire of the opening day’s Jerez testing with electronic and hydraulic related issues.
Having worked to rectify the problem overnight, Button was again in the driving seat for the second day of testing, nominated as a wet weather test day by Pirelli.
This time, there was no repeat of the problems that dogged Tuesday’s running and Button not only topped the morning times in the wet, but went on to clock the day’s fastest time in the afternoon as the circuit dried out.
As noted by Autosport’s technical expert Gary Anderson, McLaren decided to fit blockers to the rear suspension links to produce the effect of disrupting the airflow and creating greater downforce from the underfloor.
And according to Button, as quoted on ESPNF1, he felt no issues with the car after his opening test day.
There's no horrible issues with the car itself. No big issues with the power unit in terms of how it delivers. So the basic car itself is where we want it to be. We always aim to have a good base because the way it will improve over the year and what we are going to add to this car, aerodynamically and with engine development, is massive. So having a good base is important.
I enjoy driving this car. The power unit doesn't sound as good, that's a fact. It's not as exciting to hear from the outside, but when you're driving it it sounds good, we've got the turbo noise and the wastegate noise, which is actually a quite a nice change.
The new innovation also seemed to do the trick in terms of testing pace when McLaren rookie Kevin Magnussen stepped into the fray to take over duties from Button on Thursday.
Magnussen had previously tested for McLaren in the young driver test at Abu Dhabi and again at Silverstone, but driving the new spec car under the radical engine and aerodynamic regulations represented a very different challenge.
It was one that Magnussen took to like a duck to water and the young Dane looked totally at ease in the car, setting the quickest lap time of the day in completing 52 trouble-free laps.
Despite topping the time sheets once again, Magnussen admitted on Autosport that he had not been pushing too hard on the opening day and that the lap times were not the most important thing.
I'm not looking into the times too much - it's winter testing, so nobody really knows what the teams are doing. I was pushing but it wasn't balls to the wall. We will go quicker. I'm pretty happy about what we did, but I'm especially happy about the laps we got in - and the lap Button did too. The reliability of the car has been much better than we thought it would be.
Hopefully that continues - it might not - and we'll continue learning, [because] we need to build up an idea of where the problems will be. The important thing is we have a good idea of which direction to go and where to improve.
Perhaps buoyed by his highly encouraging first day at the office, Magnussen pushed the limits further on the final day of testing and lost control of the McLaren at Turn 10 late in the day, his test ending in the barriers.
Still, Magnussen’s off came after he had already completed a substantial 110 laps on the final day and his combined times from his two days of testing put him on top overall from the 22 participating drivers.