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McLaren suffers £2.3m loss

Following its disastrous Formula One season last year, in which it was fined a staggering £50m for allegedly possessing technical secrets belonging to Ferrari, McLaren has now posted a loss of £2.3m for 2006. This is down from £14.3m profit the year bafore.

The McLaren Group is is part-owned by Mercedes, with a 40pc stake, and Bahrain’s sovereign wealth fund, Mumtalakat, with £30pc. Ron Dennis owns part of the rest with the Saudi-run TAG Group.

The Group was hit on all fronts. Sales of its £300,000 flagship car, the SLR, produced with Mercedes, fell from 649 in 2005 to 261 in 2006.

The ban on tobacco advertising in F1 reduced its turnover to £206.6m, and Lewis Hamilton’s failure to secure the world title meant further losses. Without the rookie’s efforts though, Fernando Alonso may well have won the title for the team.

Even a great performance by Lewis counted against them in 2007. Truly the stars were not on their side. They will be praying for better fortune this year.

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Lewis Hamilton back testing in Spain

Lewis Hamilton After the racist taunts he suffered in Barcelona 10 days ago, Lewis Hamilton returned to Spain for more testing. In Jerez he drove before a well-mannered crowd of around 1000 — and clocked the fastest time.

With rival team Ferrari absent, the McLaren driver held off test driver Pedro de la Rosa by 0.2 seconds and BMW’s Robert Kubica by half a second.

Hamilton said, “It’s great to get back out on the track in Spain. We have another two days here and there’s a lot we need to get done.”

De la Rosa commented on the Barcelona furore, “The Spanish fans are educated and peaceful people. So much has been said about this issue. The important thing for me is that at this test it can be demonstrated that all drivers are treated with respect, which has always been the case.”

After one of the most fractious seasons in 2007, let’s hope his sentiments carry forward into 2008.

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