F1 returnee Kimi Raikkonen enjoyed another successful day at Jerez despite an early off during Wednesday morning which caused some slight damage to his Lotus E20.

The former world champion remained there or thereabouts at the top of the timesheets after posting a 1min 20.239secs effort, good enough for fifth as the Finn continued to feel his way back in the groove.

Raikkonen's charge was halted for most of the morning after an off-track excursion resulted in some minor damage to floor of his Lotus but, once repaired, the former Ferrari and McLaren man could get down to the business of evaluating the initial aero package Lotus had brought to Jerez.

"There was a small issue with damage to the floor this morning when I went off and came back on to the circuit," Raikkonen explained, "An edge on a kerb caused the damage and we lost some time as it was repaired. Apart from that it was a good day and we completed some long runs and good mileage."

Tyres also played a crucial part in the Enstone-based team's programme, as the Finn spent most of the day getting to grips with how each Pirelli compound reacted with both the car and track temperature.

"There was a lot of difference between the tyres," he reported, "We used three compounds, but it was hard to get all of them working with the cooler temperatures today.

"When the tyres are working we seem to have a good car and I have a positive feeling from this first test."

Lotus track operations director, Alan Permane, buoyed by the early reliability of the E20, echoed his driver's comments, stating the initial signs were 'encouraging'. Permane also revealed that the time taken whilst repairing the car during the morning allowed the teaam to install a re-configured steering rack to try and counter Raikkonen complaints about the original part.

"We had an interruption this morning with a slight off from Kimi which caused some damage to the car," Permane confirmed, "This gave us an opportunity with the car in the garage to change the specification of steering rack, so we lost a reasonable amount of time in the morning.

"However, the E20 ran reliably for the rest of the day, meaning we were able to complete most of our planned programme.

"We looked at set-up, using the medium and soft tyres, and ran long runs in the afternoon, including a final run on the hard tyre, to gain mileage and everything worked very well.

"All specifications of tyre are behaving as we would expect with the E20 so this is another area of encouragement."

by Simon Evans

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