Hamilton writes off new car to cut short Spanish test

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The Independent Online

Lewis Hamilton escaped unhurt following an accident during a test session with McLaren in Valencia yesterday afternoon.

Ten days after unveiling the new MP4-22 in the Spanish city, the 22-year-old Briton badly damaged the car at the Ricardo Tormo circuit. It has not yet been determined whether it was a mechanical failure or driver error that led to the shunt.

A McLaren spokesperson confirmed yesterday: "Lewis had an accident at the circuit in Valencia this afternoon, the cause of which is being investigated. Lewis is uninjured, however, the MP4-22 is badly damaged and will not be repairable in Valencia to allow him to continue his test programme tomorrow."

The accident means Hamilton will be a spectator for the final day of the three-day test session today.

In Barcelona, Jenson Button helped to unveil the car on which he and his Honda team are pinning their hopes for a world title.

Button, who won his first grand prix in Hungary last year knows he must deliver in 2007. In 2006 Honda started strongly, lost pace, then clawed their way back. Button holds dear to the fact that he was the highest points scorer over the final seven races, and that Ferrari, McLaren-Mercedes and Renault have all made dramatic changes to their driver line-ups.

"Our sole change, apart from the new car, is going to the same Bridgestone tyres that everyone else has," he said. "That gives me great confidence that our momentum will continue while everyone else is still finding their feet. For me, the most important thing going into this season is the atmosphere and the confidence within the team."