Wednesday February 7th, 2001
Briton David Coulthard has been won over immediately by the new McLaren MP4-16 Formula One car.
"I'm the most confident I have ever felt about a new car," the Scot said before the launch of the team's 2001 challenger at Valencia's Ricardo Tormo circuit on Wednesday.
He described his first test of the car as "the best roll-out I've had since I've been at McLaren."
Coulthard was third overall in last year's championship but is determined to do better in 2001.
McLaren boss Ron Dennis told guests at a dinner on Tuesday night before the formal unveiling that the car had been finished ahead of schedule and had already been given track time over the last two days.
"We finished the car early and brought it here on Sunday night," he said.
"We have done 500 kilometres since Monday morning, absolutely without problems. The car is reasonably competitive and it has not stopped so far."
Former world champion Mika Hakkinen of Finland has yet to drive the new car, with Coulthard doing much of the early season testing, but he and the Scot will share the one finished MP4-16 until February 23.
"We have put a huge effort into this year's car," said Dennis. "Even Norbert (Haug) has become more aerodynamic, having removed his moustache," he quipped of the burly Mercedes motorsport boss.
McLaren are due to unveil the car later on Wednesday with an official test also scheduled.