Kimi Raikkonen put last week's run-out in the 2010 Renault and Monday's promotional day with the latest challenger to emerge from Enstone to good use as he topped the times on day one of four at Jerez de la Frontera.

The Finn, who is breaking a two-year sabbatical in the World Rally Championship to return to F1 with the renamed Lotus F1 squad, was among the first on track at the southern Spanish venue, and the first to set a flying lap.

Despite the cool early morning temperatures, Raikkonen was quickly into the 1min 20secs bracket, and continued to chip away at the benchmark throughout his first few runs in the all-new E20, eventually posting a 1min 19.670secs best as the opening couple of hours came to an end.

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Although he remained on track for the rest of the day, the Finn switched his attention to other programmes as part of the Lotus team's development plan, and did not approach the mark again.

Without any further improvement in his time, Raikkonen allowed the rest of the field to close the gap as the day went, with Force India's Paul di Resta eventually come out second overall, having got to within 0.102secs of the Lotus.

The Scot had been in the top three for much of the day, overtaking Mercedes works driver Nico Rosberg for second spot just before many of the teams took an impromptu lunch break. Unlike Raikkonen, however, di Resta and Force India had not had the luxury of a shakedown in the VJM05 following its launch at Silverstone on Friday, but neither team or driver showed signs of struggling as they enjoyed a full day of running.

"A good start to our winter test programme with 101 laps completed, which allowed us to get through all our objectives and a bit more," di Resta noted, "The baseline balance felt pretty good and the car performed consistently over the longer runs, which was useful for collecting the data we need. So I think we can be positive heading into tomorrow and the next three days will be interesting as we have more test items to evaluate."

Rosberg, running one of two 2011-spec cars in the field alongside Pedro de la Rosa's HRT, ended the day in third spot, but, like Raikkonen, relied on a time set early on as he handed over the sole W02 to team-mate Michael Schumacher after lunch.

Both drivers completed a set-up programme which focused on learning about the behaviour of the 2012 Pirelli tyres, while the proven reliability of the 2011 car also allowed the team to accumulate valuable mileage on a number of test items destined for the 2012 machine.

"We made a very good start to our programme today and completed 56 laps this morning," Rosberg confirmed, "I was driving the 2011 car, so it felt comfortable straightaway as we tested some different things in perfect weather conditions, as well as starting learning about the 2012 Pirelli tyres and how they work."

Schumacher completed a further 42 laps during his time in the car, but had to settle for sixth fastest time on his return to the cockpit after the winter break.

"It feels terrific being back in the car and hitting the circuit again," he admitted, "Our main job was to get a first impression of the tyres for 2012 and to start understanding them. They feel like a step forward, more consistent and comfortable to drive, and the biggest difference is with the rear tyre."

Between the two Silver Arrows sat the Red Bull-liveried RB8 of Mark Webber and similarly-hued Toro Rosso STR7 of Daniel Ricciardo, who encountered similar days, albeit in reverse.

The Australian, who had helped unveil the world champion team's latest contender 24 hours earlier, was made to wait before entering the fray. Although RBR was able to fire up the Renault engine in the back of Adrian Newey's creation, Webber was delayed by the late arrival of vital parts, which had been diverted to Seville by fog at Jerez airport.

Once on track, the Australian made a cautious start, but soon began to move up the order, vaulting into sixth with his first serious lap, and later climbing into fourth, where he ended the day.

Ricciardo, meanwhile, was on track almost as soon as the pit-lane opened, and enjoyed a solid morning as Toro Rosso worked through its initial programme. The younger Australian had his afternoon cut short, however, as his car coasted to a halt at turn one with fading oil pressure, and could not be fixed in time for a return before the chequered flag appeared. Having finally fitted Pirelli's medium compound tyre for the ill-fated run, the former HRT driver no doubt reckoned he could have improved his time, possibly threatening his counrtryman's mark.

"It was really nice to be back in the cockpit for the first time since the Brazilian Grand Prix in November and being the first person to drive the STR7 was a little bonus," Ricciardo commented, "It was great to experience taking a completely new car out of the garage, and we had a very productive morning, doing over 40 laps and we made good progress with our programme.

"In the afternoon, we did a couple of longer runs, but had to cut it short, although we only lost an hour. It's too early to give a true assessment of the car, but, out of the box this morning, it seemed balanced and quite stable. It gave me a good feeling when I put the power down, [and], overall, it was a good start and I'm looking forward to another productive day tomorrow, because this car is very enjoyable to drive."

Schumacher was followed at a distance by Kamui Kobayashi as Sauber returned to the track after its own promotional run following Monday's launch. The Japanese driver showed the benefit of the earlier track time by initially appearing towards the top of the timesheets, but slipped back thereafter, eventually winding up in seventh spot despite covering more than a hundred laps.

"I'm happy," Kobayashi reported, "The new car feels fine. We managed good mileage today despite a small problem in the morning session. Running today wasn't about performance but focused on checking systems and reliability. Nevertheless, I got the impression the new Pirelli tyres might be good for us. I am looking forward to the next tests and to further work on the car."

The Sauber was still ahead of two notable names at the end of the day, with Jenson Button and Felipe Massa queued up behind the C31 for McLaren and Ferrari respectively.

Despite his relatively lowly position, however, Button was satisfied with his day, which started slowly with a number of shorter runs, before completing a thorough systems check to ensure the car was running reliably. Longer runs began just before lunch and continued to the end of the day, allowing the team to begin assessing tyre wear on the latest Pirellis.

"It's been a good day," Button confirmed, "This morning, we ran through our installation and systems checks and the running was good. We've been gathering data on aerodynamics, downforce levels, temperatures and the feeling inside the cockpit.

"We did a 15-lap timed run this afternoon, which is a good starting point for us - and the consistency was okay. It's been a positive day too. There are no niggly areas with the car, which is nice. Overall, today was just a starting point, and was all about putting miles on the car. There are some promising signs, so I'm happy.

"It's now important for us to get a clean day of running tomorrow, put some miles on the car and find a direction that we like. Today's a very good basis for the next few days."

Massa also spent the first part of the day working on data acquisition relating to the handling of the car, but, by lunch, had completed 51 laps, posting a quickest time of 1min 22.815secs, which remained his best through to the end of the day.

Caterham's Heikki Kovalainen was just three-tenths shy of Massa when the circuit closed, encouraging the rebadged team on the debut of its CT01. The Finn, in keeping with Caterham being the first to reveal its 2012 car, was also the first on track when pit-lane opened, but had his day cut short by an unexpected technical issue.

"It's good to be back at work after the winter break and great to see how up for the season ahead the whole team are," Kovalainen enthused, "We were first out on track this morning and the early feeling I had from the car was good. It's far too early to tell how much we've progressed but it already feels like we're going in the right direction.

"We obviously didn't want to end early today but we couldn't sort out the starter shaft issue in time to get back on track, but I'm reasonably pleased with what we have achieved today. I know the team will put in the work tonight to get us back out on track tomorrow and pick up where we left off today."

Pastor Maldonado made a hesitant start in the latest Williams, which was only unveiled immediately ahead of the test getting underway, while de la Rosa unsurprisingly brought up the rear on his first outing in the HRT.