Misfiring McLaren plumb depths at Albert Park

Fri Mar 13, 2015 8:43am EDT
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By Ian Ransom

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - McLaren's sense of foreboding from a dismal winter testing was confirmed at the Australian Grand Prix on Friday as drivers Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen languished near the bottom of the timesheets in the opening practice sessions of the season.

Out of 15 cars that completed flying laps in the first session, Button and Magnussen were the slowest and had precious little time on track for technicians to gather data.

They were to gain little cheer from the second session, with former world champion Button improving only to 13th quickest.

Magnussen, standing in for the injured Fernando Alonso, was last-placed at 16th and forced to walk off the track after dragging his car into the gravel.

Strugglers Manor Marussia, recently reborn after going into administration, may have saved McLaren further blushes by being unable to put either of their cars onto the track.

McLaren may not have won a race since 2012 but the prospect of both drivers failing to pass the first round of qualifying on Saturday has become frighteningly real.

While the team's much-hyped partnership with Honda has failed to deliver a competitive car in time for the opening race of the season, management have also been under fire from media speculation about Alonso's health.

The two-time world champion had a heavy crash at testing last month and suffered temporary memory loss.   Continued...

The car of McLaren Formula One driver Jenson Button of Britain is reflected in the visor of a pit crew member during the second practice session of the Australian F1 Grand Prix at the Albert Park circuit in Melbourne March 13, 2015. REUTERS/Brandon Malone