Pastor Maldonado says Lotus has made "strong progress" since Jerez and that his quickest time today at Barcelona is a "great starting point for the week".

Maldonado went top towards the end of the opening day of the second F1 2015 pre-season test, posting a 1 minute 25.011 second lap, leaving him 0.156 seconds up on Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari, although he was using the soft tyres.

In total the Venezuelan did 69 tours, despite twice bring out the red flags in the morning - due to software issues - and despite losing some time this afternoon due to a clutch issue.

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"It is always good to see your name at the top of the timing monitors and my fastest lap was just in the course of our normal programme for the day," Maldonado said.

"It feels good to drive the E23 in Barcelona. The car responded well to the changes we made and we were able to complete a good number of laps. The team has made strong progress since Jerez and we have a great starting point for the rest of the week. The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is a perfect track to assess a new car so we are happy with progress today."

Speaking later, however, he admitted that the team still has much to do.

"I think, from my point of view, it [the E23] is a huge step forward from last year," he told reporters, including "We saw that even at the last test in Jerez, with a new car, we were running immediately. It is positive.

"Today it was good [too]. I am a bit happy [to be quickest] but it is not enough. We need to try and improve particular things in the car. I know it is still early, but we don't have a lot of time to think about. We need to react soon to be fully ready for the first race."

So is he more confident with the car compared to last year's?

"Yeah, much more confident," he continued. "As I mentioned before, we need to keep working on the set-up and keep working in some particular areas of the car, but [in short] a much better feeling."

Asked how much the Lotus is taking out of the powerunit, he replied: "Difficult to say because it [the Mercedes] is a new engine for us. We are just trying different things with the engine and it is not only about the power. It is about the package, which is coming together in terms of mapping and even the gearbox. We are getting to a good point now. We started the day with a few problems and we have been solving them through the day. In the afternoon it was a much better car."