Max Chilton was left with a smile on his face at the end of the first F1 test day in Spain, the Marussia driver emerging as the surprise pace setter around the Circuit de Catalunya.

Taking full advantage of the supersoft Pirelli tyres at the end of a day interrupted by numerous red flags and inclement weather conditions, Chilton surged to the head of the timesheets with little more than five minutes remaining with a lap time of 1min 26.434secs.

A welcome boost for the Russian-backed team, which is yet to score a point in F1 as either Marussia or in its previous Virgin Racing guise, though Chilton is under few illusions that the tyres and circumstances played their part in him emerging fastest, he insists his performance is still the culmination of hard work.

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"I am very happy! It is nice for the team to finish P1. They have been here four years and we work just as hard as anyone else, so it's nice to finish with a good time and everyone can finish the day with a smile on their face.

"On a test day it is important to drive as consistently as possible. Even on the lap at the end, I was pushing, but I was still trying to drive the laps that I had driven all day. It was down to tyres and set-up progression throughout the day.

"It's a great boost. We don't get this opportunity often and I don't think they have ever been in this position, so it's nice but we don't want to get too big for our boots!"

Despite the advantage he received from being the only driver to use the supersoft tyres, Chilton says his speed was still in part down to the progress made to the balance throughout the day.

"We had been working on the balance all day and I was quite happy with it going on the softs at the end of the day, so it wasn't purely down to the supersofts as we did make a good step forward this morning."

Chilton's team-mate Jules Bianchi will assume driving duties on the second and final day of the test.