Hamilton delighted by McLaren's latest design

Problems that dogged the car last season have been solved, claims British driver

Lewis Hamilton had his first taste here yesterday of the McLaren he hopes will carry him to the world championship this season, and pronounced himself satisfied.

"It was a night-and-day difference in feeling compared to the first lap and the first test day in 2009," he said. "I have a positive feeling. I've obviously kept a close eye on the development of the car and the results we got at the end of 2009 – so seeing it evolve and having input into it, I was very excited to get in today to see what parts we have improved. Hopefully we would have got rid of a lot of the bugs that we had in the previous car.

"It felt good. I got out smiling and all the problems I had with the last car I didn't have with this one. There are still areas we can improve on."

Hamilton said the feel he got from the MP4-25 was exactly what he would want from first acquaintance with a new car. "It's gone well," he said. "Obviously the Ferrari seems very quick, and so does the Sauber. But we don't know what fuel loads everyone else was on. We felt quite comfortable with what we were doing, but there is quite a bit of time we need to find."

Felipe Massa continued to set the pace for Ferrari with a best lap of 1 minute 11.722 seconds, and Japan's Kamui Kobayashi kept BMW Sauber in the limelight with the second fastest time of 1min 12.056sec, both setting their laps early before focusing on long-distance running.

Hamilton ended the day third on 1min 12.256sec, ahead of Renault's Robert Kubica on 1min 12.426sec, both setting their times late in the afternoon. Possible improvements at the very end of the day were thwarted when the Pole's car ground to a halt opposite the pits and resulted in the red flag being brought out.

Reigning world champion Jenson Button will take over McLaren's driving duties today, when he will be joined by Fernando Alonso at Ferrari and Michael Schumacher will be back at Mercedes.

Meanwhile, Force India confirmed 23-year-old Paul di Resta from West Lothian as their test and reserve driver alongside Tonio Liuzzi and Adrian Sutil. Di Resta, cousin of Indianapolis 500 winner and IRL champion Dario Franchitti, impressed during testing for the team in Jerez in November, and will get a run in the new Force India VJM03 at the same track next week.

The Scot is expected to replace Sutil in the team from 2011, and Force India will exploit a loophole in the regulations to give him greater experience by running him in place of one of the race drivers in some Friday sessions.

"Our choice was to take an experienced driver or to work with a young guy with potential and do something to supplement that potential with experience," said chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer. "We'll sacrifice some of the race drivers' track time so Paul can get up to speed."

"This is a fantastic opportunity, and I want to be around F1 for a long time," Di Resta said. "There's no doubt that I have big shoes to fill," he continued, alluding to Scotland's legacy of Jim Clark, Jackie Stewart, Innes Ireland and David Coulthard, "and I want to succeed. I am fully focused on what I want to achieve, and that's to be world champion. I am going to try my best to achieve that but it's also important to enjoy the whole thing, too."

What's the point? The new scoring system for F1

From the start of the new Formula One season, the winner of each race will get 25 points, the second placed driver 18 points, and so on down to 10th place gaining a single point. Previously the winner of each race was awarded 10 points, the runner-up 8, third place 6, down to the eighth-placed driver winning a point.

The system promises to reward drivers' reliability and consistency during the season in the final table.

New system: 1st place – 25 points, 2nd – 18 pts, 3rd – 15 pts, 4th – 12 pts, 5th – 10 pts, 6th – 8 pts, 7th – 6 pts, 8th – 4 pts, 9th – 2 pts, 10th – 1 pt.

The new scoring system would not have changed the standings over the last three seasons but would have created a larger points margin between the drivers on the final table.

2009 season

Pos/Driver/New/Old

1. Jenson Button 244/95

2. Sebastian Vettel 206/84

3. Rubens Barrichello 196/77

4. Mark Webber 174/69.5

5. Lewis Hamilton 126/49

2008 season

Pos/Driver/New/Old

1. Lewis Hamilton 243/98

2. Felipe Massa 240/97

3. Kimi Raikkonen 189/75

4. Robert Kubica 186/75

5. Fernando Alonso 154/61

2007 season

Pos/Driver/New/Old

1. Kimi Raikkonen 272/110

2. Fernando Alonso 266/109

3. Lewis Hamilton 265/109

4. Felipe Massa 238/94

5. Nick Heidfeld 151/61

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Andy Davidhazy at the beginning (left) and end (right) of his hike
video
News
Taylor Swift is applying to trademark song lyrics from 1989
people
Voices
The popularity of TV shows such as The Liver Birds encouraged Liverpudlians to exaggerate their Scouse accent
voicesWe exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
Parker says: 'I once had a taster use the phrase 'smells like the sex glands of a lemming'. Who in the world can relate to that?'
food + drinkRobert Parker's 100-point scale is a benchmark of achievement for wine-makers everywhere
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing