Less than 24 hours after the covers were pulled back to reveal it to the world's press, Ferrari's new F2008 hit the track at Fiorano in the hands of world champion Kimi Raikkonen.

Despite temperatures not rising much above three degrees all day, and with misty swirling above a damp circuit, the Finn put the first miles on the car the Scuderia hopes will allow it to retain both world crowns in 2008 - and was able to do it in relative secrecy as nemesis McLaren was unveiling its challenger at the same time, several hundred miles away in Stuttgart.

During the course of the day, Raikkonen completed 55 laps of the private testing facility, all on its longer layout, posting a benchmark time of 1min 00.897secs - something that the team will hope to beat regularly as the season progresses.

"The first impressions of the new car were very positive," Raikkonen told those members of the press to have made the trip to the test, ""I don't think we have to make any improvements at the moment. There were some problems today, and we still don't have the final tyres, but the impression was really fine. Next week, we have further possibilities to see how the car behaves."

Asked whether a lower, and maybe shorter, car, now without traction control, would influence its driveability, Raikkonen admitted that he would need more time - and a variety of conditions - to form a strong opinion.

"I don't have many points of reference, [as] I can only compare it to the last car," he conceded, "I did a test without traction control before Christmas and I have to say that, first of all, you have to drive very cautiously and consider that a car with traction control is fast and might respond a little bit faster.

"Sure, the first impression is really positive and you [find you] can handle the car even without the traction control. The weather could have been better today, but it is really nice to drive this car."

The world champion will be back on track at Jerez on 14 January, where both he and team-mate Felipe Massa will be at the wheel of an F2008, contrary to recent Ferrari testing tactics where the Brazilian has had to run with an updated version of the previous year's car.



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