Rubens Barrichello echoed team-mate Jenson Button' sentiments following his first outing in the new Brawn GP car, admitting relief at being back in action after a winter of uncertainty, and a combination of surprise and delight at finding the BGP001 able to mix it with rivals that were out of reach last season.

While the Brawn team's performance is being treated with caution lest it be a mirage designed to attract potential sponsors, Barrichello posted the third fastest time of the day in Barcelona, trailing only Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari and the Williams-Toyota of Kazuki Nakajima.

The veteran Brazilian was stepping into an F1 cockpit for the first time since his home race closed out the 2008 season, but showed few signs of rust as he completed 111 laps of the Circuit de Catalunya. Having opened with an installation run to ensure that he was comfortable with his seating position, Barrichello - who secured the former Honda team's best result of 2008 with third at Silverstone - continued Brawn GP's focus on a series of long runs to enable the team to evaluate the balance of the car in race conditions.

''First of all, I would like to thank everyone at Brackley for what has been achieved,'' the Brazilian commented, ''After such a long wait for news on the team, and for me to have to sit out the past four months, I am so pleased that we have a reliable and fast car straight out of the box.

''I am pleased with my physical condition, which has enabled me to complete so many laps - 111 in total - on my first day of running. As we are playing catch-up, obviously the more mileage I can do before the first race the better. I am happy that we have got off to a good start at our first test - we just need to carry that through to the next test in Jerez and on to Melbourne.''

Button will continue the programme with the BGP001 today [Wednesday], before Barrichello returns on Thursday.



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