MONTMELO, Spain (AP) McLaren’s technical troubles worsened on Saturday, while Pastor Maldonado again steered Lotus to the session’s fastest lap in Formula One preseason testing.
A faulty seal on his McLaren cut short Jenson Button’s shift behind the wheel on Thursday. Two days later, the team said ”a failure of the revised seal” in its new Honda engine combined with a punctured tire were behind the former champion registering the session’s fewest laps, 24, and slowest time.
”It hasn’t been my day,” Button said. ”I still can’t comment on where the car will be when everything is running smoothly, as I haven’t had the chance to run it properly. Hopefully, our problems will be solved sooner rather than later, but tomorrow is still likely to be a reasonably difficult day.”
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McLaren, which also recorded the lowest lap total through the first test in Jerez, said ”a new re-engineered seal is scheduled to arrive, and will be applied later this evening.”
”We’ve still got five days of testing left, so hopefully they’ll be five good days,” Button said.
Maldonado, meanwhile, continued to impress by clocking the quickest lap to sit on top of the timesheet for a second time this week at the Barcelona-Catalunya Circuit, where the Venezuelan got his sole grand prix win in 2012.
Toro Rosso newcomer Max Verstappen, F1’s youngest ever driver at 17, also had a strong showing with the most laps at 129, and the second fastest time – less than 0.004 seconds behind Maldonado – before light rain halfway through the session.
”A good session, and the first time I’ve done over a hundred laps in a single day,” Verstappen said. ”Compared to after the first test in Jerez, I feel more confident and more comfortable with the car, as I start to learn about every aspect of the job.”
Lewis Hamilton managed the third best time to put Mercedes ahead of a revamped Ferrari for the first time this preseason.
The champion said he was still not completely recovered from a fever that forced him to stop driving on Thursday.
”Just like yesterday, there have been better days in terms of how I’m feeling,” Hamilton said. ”We weren’t looking for a quick lap, just driving round looking at setup changes. If the weather had been better we would have had more mileage, but we got through everything we wanted to.”
Sebastian Vettel ended up in the gravel on his first lap out when he lost control of his Ferrari. But with his car undamaged, the former four-time champion went back out and put in 101 laps and the fifth fastest time, right behind Marcus Ericsson of Sauber.
Testing continues on Sunday. Teams then take a pause before returning to the track for a final four days of testing next weekend.
The season-opening Australian GP is in three weeks.