Formula 1 pre-season testing: McLaren breaks down after four laps

Formula 1

McLaren managed to get Stoffel Vandoorne back out just before lunch after his car suffered a power problem early on

McLaren had a dismal start to the final pre-season test when their car broke down after just four laps.

Stoffel Vandoorne had a battery problem, making it the third day of five in winter testing so far on which McLaren have had reliability problems.

Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was fastest in the morning, ahead of Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas and Max Verstappen of Red Bull.

The Honda-powered Toro Rosso was fourth fastest.

McLaren split with Honda at the end of last season, frustrated by three seasons of poor performance and reliability.

But the start of the team’s relationship with Renault has not gone well, with a succession of McLaren-related issues restricting mileage in testing.

Fernando Alonso lost a wheel after just six laps of the first day of testing last week because a nut had not been tightened.

The following day Vandoorne had overheating in the engine bay caused by a broken exhaust clip.

Sebastian Vettel clocked a time of 1:20.396 to finish fastest in the morning

The final two days of the first test were rendered largely useless by poor weather.

Vandoorne suffered the same problem – an electrical shutdown – twice. First the car cut out on its way into the pits, then after setting his first time, Vandoorne ground to a halt on the pit straight.

McLaren managed to get Vandoorne out again just before the chequered flag ended the morning session, giving him a total of seven laps, while Vettel, Bottas and Verstappen all did more than 80.

Meanwhile, Honda’s new partner Toro Rosso – the Red Bull junior team – managed more than 50 laps and their driver Pierre Gasly was just 0.377secs off the pace on Tuesday morning.

Vettel set a fastest time of one minute 20.396 seconds on the medium tyre, 0.2secs quicker than Bottas who was on softs. Verstappen – with the same Renault engine as McLaren – used the theoretically slower ‘medium’ tyre to lap just 0.057secs slower than the Mercedes.

The second and final pre-season test runs from 6-9 March. The opening race is the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne’s Albert Park on 23-25 March.

Fastest times in the morning session

1 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Ferrari 1:20.396

2 Valtteri Bottas (Fin) Mercedes 1:20.596 *

3 Max Verstappen (Ned) Red Bull-Renault 1:20.649

4 Pierre Gasly (Fra) Toro Rosso-Honda 1:20.973 *

5 Kevin Magnussen (Den) Haas-Ferrari 1:21.298 *

6 Sergey Sirotkin (Rus) Williams-Mercedes 1:21.588 *

7 Nico Hulkenberg (Ger) Renault 1:21.738

8 Sergio Perez (Mex) Force India-Mercedes 1:21.936 *

9 Marcus Ericsson (Swe) Sauber-Ferrari 1:22.194 *

10 Stoffel Vandoorne (Bel) McLaren-Renault 1:24.773 **

** = time set on super-soft tyre; * = soft; all others medium

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