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Raikkonen tops opening day of Jerez test

Kimi Raikkonen returned to F1 in style by topping the timesheets for Lotus on the opening day of group testing at Jerez.

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.

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.




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Ab - Unregistered

February 07, 2012 8:02 PM

Sure it doesn't mean anything but for all us kimi fans, it's great to hear from day 1 he's on it. Hoping it's a sign that the transition will be a quick one.



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