Barcelona test winds up

Fri, 1 December 2006, 08:47

Predictably, Mika Hakkinen clocked the slowest lap time at Circuit de Catalunya on Thursday, as the first test of the 2007 pre-season wrapped up in Spain.

The double world champion and Finn, returning to the cockpit after five years of retirement to test for McLaren, spent the first hours of the chilly day in Barcelona doing installation laps and not pushing at all.

As the sun faded, with more than a grand prix distance under his belt, the 38-year-old still trailed his seventeen fellow testers and was more than two seconds slower than Lewis Hamilton in an identical 2006-spec MP4-21.

Hakkinen said: “I didn’t expect to be quick straight away, and Barcelona is of course a hard track on both the car and driver.

“It took several laps before I was up to speed, but we were all expecting this to be the case.”

Despite Mika’s and the team’s protests to the contrary, some observers – such as former team boss Eddie Jordan – dismissed the test as a sort of PR stunt.

The Irishman told Reuters: “I cannot see any logic to it at all. It will take him so much time to understand about the car and all the different technology that he will need far more than one day.”

Ex-Minardi chief Paul Stoddart added: “If this is just a one-off, then it is probably a bit of PR.”


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