This year’s Barcelona Formula One Testing started off on a sour note for McLaren Racing Limited: on the first day, British driver Jenson Buttons was sidelined after a hydraulics leak, forcing the team to change his engine. However, in the days since, the ill-fated team seems to be turning over a new leaf, with Buttons completing 101 laps on the second day of testing.
McLaren is one of the oldest and most successful Formula One teams in Formula One history, but the start of their 2015 season has been marked with significant difficulties, many of them due to their new vehicle, the McLaren MP4-30. On Thursday, February 26, the first day of testing, this problem emerged when Buttons was forced to withdraw after only seven laps. After experiencing a recurring issue with the seal of the MGU-K component on his Honda power unit, a hydraulic leak finally forced McLaren to replace his engine.
Automotive leaks are a potentially dangerous issue for both Formula One drivers and standard vehicles. For this reason, automakers typically rely on various leak testing methods to prevent accidents and other issues.
Nonetheless, this wasn’t the end of McLaren’s troubles: while Buttons’s teammate, Fernando Alonso, managed to complete 59 laps on Friday, February 27, he was involved in an accident on Sunday that caused him to be airlifted to a hospital. Currently, information about his status is limited. Reserve driver Kevin Magnussen took his place in the remainder of the Barcelona testing.
However, Buttons’s performance on Friday offered some good news to the beleaguered team: he completed 101 laps in testing, his best performance of the year thus far, which will help make up for the hydraulic leak on Thursday. Further improving matters, Button was only three seconds behind the hottest pace of the day, set by Nico Rosberg of Mercedes. His performance was still somewhat disappointing, as his car came to a stop between turns seven and eight just before the end of the day, but can still only help McLaren after the events of the preseason.
Currently, Buttons and Alonso are expected to race in Melbourne on March 12: Alonso released a statement and a Youtube video on Friday, announcing his intentions to race and confirming his safety. However, McLaren says the decision will ultimately be a medical one. Alonso had reportedly wanted to take part in the final day of racing, but was advised against it by his doctor.