McLaren's big push ends back in the garage
By Alan Baldwin
BARCELONA (Reuters) - Jenson Button completed just one timed lap as misfiring McLaren's hopes of picking up speed in Formula One's final pre-season test stalled before lunchtime on Thursday.
Racing director Eric Bouillier had said last weekend, after Fernando Alonso crashed and was airlifted to hospital, that the team would be "pushing harder than ever" at the Circuit de Catalunya.
Pushing the troubled McLaren back into the garage turned out to be closer to the truth, though it was not what the Frenchman had in mind.
On a day when Brazilian Felipe Massa was quickest for Mercedes-powered Williams with 103 laps to his credit, McLaren's woes stood out starkly with Button's lap nearly eight seconds slower.
Sweden's Marcus Ericsson did 122 laps for Sauber, and was second fastest on the supersoft tyres, but Mercedes experienced rare power unit problems with double world champion Lewis Hamilton putting in a comparatively meager 48 laps.
Button started off with some aerodynamic runs but, with only one of seven laps producing a time, noticed a vibration that required a lengthy change of the Honda power unit and ended McLaren's presence on the track for the day.
The 2009 world champion is no stranger to such setbacks and will be back in the car on Friday before Denmark's Kevin Magnussen takes over for the final two days.