Lewis Hamilton Crashes McLaren MP4-24 Again, in Barcelona

McLaren Mercedes' awful pace continued on Wednesday, despite the return of reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton into the MP4-24 cockpit. The Englishman did not have any more success than teammate Heikki Kovalainen in the first two days of the Barcelona testing, as he finished the day with the poorest time of the 10 cars present at the Circuit de Catalunya on Wednesday.

Hamilton ended yesterday's testing with the best time of 1:21.657, more than two and a half seconds behind countryman Jenson Button in his BGP 001. Not only he scored the worst time in testing, but Hamilton also did the fewer mileage on Wednesday. That was caused by an unfortunate crash into the barriers on Turn 2 of the Catalunya circuit, which practically sealed another disappointing day for the Woking-based team.

As if the lack of performance & reliability from the MP4-24 wasn't enough, Hamilton also had to face the booing coming from the multitude of Spanish fans present in the grandstands, as reported by GMM news agency. Still holding a grudge over Hamilton due to the conflict with Fernando Alonso two years ago, the fans continued to show their disappreciation towards the British driver.

McLaren MP4-24's poor pace comes only one day after Mercedes' motorsport director Norbert Haug admitted the Woking-based team are not in the place they were expecting to be before the winter testing. With only one day to the end of the off-season testing, it seems Martin Whitmarsh's team will have to step up their development in order to become a front-runner by Melbourne.

McLaren's former team boss Ron Dennis also admitted the 2009 car needs to improve its performances ahead of the season opener, but argued that there is plenty of time to do that in the couple of weeks remaining to the race at Albert Park.

McLaren have one more day of on-track testing until Melbourne – as they have not announced an additional test following the Barcelona meeting – after which their only shot at evaluating the MP4-24's performances will be during the Friday sessions ahead of each Grand Prix (due to the in-season ban introduced by the FIA for 2009).
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