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Lewis Hamilton eager for 2011 McLaren

Lewis Hamilton
McLaren chose not to participate in the first winter test in Valencia

By Sarah Holt
BBC Sport in Valencia

Lewis Hamilton said he cannot wait to try out the 2011 McLaren after renewing his rivalry with Red Bull and Ferrari.

McLaren launch their new car in Berlin on Friday and Hamilton had to run a modified version of last season's car at the Valencia test.

He said: "I'm sure our new car is going to be good, so I'm pretty confident.

"Our car looks different to others and I hope it reflects on its performance. Ferrari and Red Bull look more like an evolution of last year's car."

McLaren chose not to participate in the first winter test in Valencia so they could spend more time developing the car at their factory.

All the teams are absorbing major rule changes for this season which include the return of the Kers energy-boost system, a moveable rear wing designed to aid overtaking and the removal of the double diffusers and the F-duct aerodynamic tool.

McLaren will take the wraps of their new-look car in Berlin on Friday before the MP4-26 makes its track debut in Jerez next week.

Although McLaren have lost valuable testing time to Red Bull, Ferrari, Mercedes and Renault, who are all running 2011-specification cars, Hamilton remains confident McLaren will not be lagging behind their chief rivals.

"I feel optimist about it," McLaren's 2008 champion added. "It is exciting for me to get in the new car and see what it's going to do.

"We've had Kers before so I'm confident that shouldn't be a problem. The moveable rear wing appears to be quite easy for us in the simulator.

"Clearly we have a tough challenge ahead of us because all the regulations have changed. But people are all starting from scratch."

On the second day of the Valencia test, Hamilton set the fourth fastest time. He was a second slower than Ferrari's pacesetter Fernando Alonso, who was followed in the timings by Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel and Force India's Paul di Resta, who was also in a 2010 car.

Hamilton explained that last year's McLaren had been slightly modified in order to replicate the downforce levels of the 2011 cars.

The team had stated before the test that their main aim was to learn how to adapt to the Pirelli tyres, which are replacing Bridgestone next season.

"We're not here to set the world on fire yet," commented Hamilton. "It was good to brush away the cobwebs and it was quite a productive day.

"We got a good understanding of the tyres. They are easier to feel but there's not as much grip as there is on the Bridgestones.

"I'm looking forward to hearing what [my team-mate] Jenson [Button] thinks about the tyres.

"He's been quick in the simulator and very focused. So we can put a bit of pressure on."

Hamilton and Button were successive British world champions and Hamilton stated that they are firmly focused on bringing more glory to McLaren.

"Of course we want to win the championship," Hamilton, 26, commented. "Trying to get through the year with as little drama as possible and trying to get the two championships that we've not had for a long time."

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see also
Wednesday testing as it happened
02 Feb 11 |  Formula 1
F1 testing photos
03 Feb 11 |  Formula 1
Wednesday's F1 gossip column
02 Feb 11 |  Formula 1
Vettel quickest in Valencia test
01 Feb 11 |  Formula 1
Vettel predicts tough title fight
01 Feb 11 |  Formula 1
Teams launch cars ahead of test
31 Jan 11 |  Formula 1
F1 teams unveil new cars
31 Jan 11 |  Formula 1
Ferrari drivers unveil 2011 car
28 Jan 11 |  Formula 1

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