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Jerez day one - Raikkonen leads the way for Lotus 07 Feb 2012

Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Lotus E20.
Formula One Testing, Day 1, Jerez, Spain, Tuesday, 7 February 2012 Paul di Resta (GBR) Force India VJM05.
Formula One Testing, Day 1, Jerez, Spain, Tuesday, 7 February 2012 Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB78.
Formula One Testing, Day 1, Jerez, Spain, Tuesday, 7 February 2012 Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR7.
Formula One Testing, Day 1, Jerez, Spain, Tuesday, 7 February 2012 Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) Sauber C31.
Formula One Testing, Day 1, Jerez, Spain, Tuesday, 7 February 2012 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4/27 in the pits.
Formula One Testing, Day 1, Jerez, Spain, Tuesday, 7 February 2012 Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari F2012.
Formula One Testing, Day 1, Jerez, Spain, Tuesday, 7 February 2012 Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) Caterham CT01.
Formula One Testing, Day 1, Jerez, Spain, Tuesday, 7 February 2012 Pastor Maldonado (VEN) Williams FW34.
Formula One Testing, Day 1, Jerez, Spain, Tuesday, 7 February 2012 Pedro De La Rosa (ESP) HRT Formula 1 Team talks with engineers.
Formula One Testing, Day 1, Jerez, Spain, Tuesday, 7 February 2012 Michael Schumacher (GER) Mercedes GP MGP W02.
Formula One Testing, Day 1, Jerez, Spain, Tuesday, 7 February 2012 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4-27.
Formula One Testing, Day 1, Jerez, Spain, Tuesday, 7 February 2012 Sunset over Jerez.
Formula One Testing, Day 1, Jerez, Spain, Tuesday, 7 February 2012

He may have been away from the sport for the last two seasons but that didn’t stop 2007 world champion Kimi Raikkonen from topping the timesheets, as this year’s opening test got underway at Jerez on Tuesday. Raikkonen clocked a best time of 1m 19.670s at the Spanish circuit in the new Lotus E20.

“It was a positive first day of testing and everything went almost to plan,” said the Finn. “We had no major issues and I got a good feel for the car and the tyres. The lap times don’t matter today. I’m happy with the balance of the car, which feels good, and the fact that we didn’t have any major issues. Also, I did more than a race distance today and did not have any physical problems at all, which is good. I’m looking forward to making further progress with the car tomorrow.”

Paul di Resta was second in Force India’s 2012 car, the VJM05, ahead of Nico Rosberg, who was third in the 2011-spec Mercedes. Di Resta was charged with systems checks and data collection over his 101 laps. The team’s third driver Jules Bianchi will get his first taste of the car on Wednesday.

Rosberg’s team mate Michael Schumacher was also in action in the MGP W02 during the day and took the sixth slot. The team focused on testing Pirelli’s 2012 rubber. "After a long break, it feels terrific being back in the car and hitting the circuit again,” explained Schumacher. “Our main job was to get a first impression of the tyres for 2012 and to start understanding them. They feel like a step forward, more consistent and comfortable to drive, and the biggest difference is with the rear tyre."

Fourth fastest was Red Bull’s Mark Webber in the brand-new RB8. Despite a delayed start after a part arrived late due to fog at the airport, Webber covered 54 laps. “It was good,” he said. “I felt quite comfortable in the car quite quickly. It’s very early days, but so far so good.”

Fellow Australian Daniel Ricciardo finished in fifth for Toro Rosso after giving the team’s 2012 car, the STR7, its official track debut. Although Ricciardo’s outing was curtailed by an oil pressure problem, he covered 57 laps.

“It was great to experience taking a completely new car out of the garage,” he said. “We had a very productive morning and made good progress with our programme. Then in the afternoon, we did a couple of longer runs, but had to cut it short. I’m looking forward to another productive day tomorrow, because this car is very enjoyable to drive. It’s too early to give a true assessment of the car, but out of the box, it seemed balanced and quite stable. It gave me a good feeling when I put the power down.”

Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi was seventh quickest after covering 106 laps in the team’s new C31. “I’m happy,” said Kobayashi. “The new car feels fine. We managed good mileage despite a small problem in the morning. Running wasn’t about performance but focused on checking systems and reliability. Nevertheless I got the impression the new Pirelli tyres might be good for us. I am looking forward to the next tests and to further work on the car.”

McLaren’s Jenson Button was eighth in the new MP4-27 ahead of Ferrari’s Felipe Massa. “It’s been a good day: this morning, we ran through our installation and systems checks and the running was good,” said Button. “We’ve been gathering data on aerodynamics, downforce levels, temperatures and the feeling inside the cockpit. We did a 15-lap timed run this afternoon, which is a good starting point for us - and the consistency was okay. It’s been a positive day.”

Massa covered 69 laps whilst he assessed the handling of the Scuderia’s new F2012. He will continue to test on Tuesday. Caterham’s Heikki Kovalainen, meanwhile, was tenth after completing 28 laps in the CT01.

“We had to bring day one to an early end after damage to the starter shaft meant we were unable to start the engine, which is a shame because it was an unusual issue and we had enjoyed a positive morning, working through the usual day one system checks and running without any reliability issues on the car until that point," explained Caterham’s chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne. "Heikki’s early feedback on the car is good and there is plenty to come from this car so we are looking forward to a positive next three days.”

Williams’ Pastor Maldonado was 11th in the FW34, which was official launched in the Jerez pit lane on Tuesday morning. Maldonado carried out a number of systems checks, including some aerodynamic correlation runs, before his running was cut short by some teething problems, which the team hope to fix on Tuesday evening.

“It feels great to be back with the team and to start putting some mileage on the FW34,” said the Venezuelan. “The car felt good and the systems were all working well this morning. I like the feel of the new Renault engine as well. It’s still too early to make any predictions, but we are pushing hard and working to understand the car better.”

The final driver in action on Tuesday was Pedro de la Rosa, who completed 44 laps in HRT’s 2011 car on his way to 12th in the times. “I really enjoyed myself today to be honest,” said De la Rosa. “I have to admit that I was a little bit nervous at the beginning of the day, because I barely knew anyone in the team or the car itself, but I’m very satisfied with how it went.”

Testing continues at Jerez on Wednesday.

Unofficial Tuesday test times from Jerez:
1. Kimi Raikkonen, Lotus, 1:19.670, 73 Laps
2. Paul di Resta, Force India, 1:19.772, 101 Laps
3. Nico Rosberg, Mercedes*, 1:20.219, 56 Laps
4. Mark Webber, Red Bull, 1:20.496, 53 Laps
5. Daniel Ricciardo, Toro Rosso, 1:20.694, 57 Laps
6. Michael Schumacher, Mercedes*, 1:20.794, 41 Laps
7. Kamui Kobayashi, Sauber, 1:21.353, 106 Laps
8. Jenson Button, McLaren, 1:21.530, 60 Laps
9. Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 1:22.815, 69 Laps
10. Heikki Kovalainen, Caterham, 1:23.178, 28 Laps
11. Pastor Maldonado, Williams, 1:23.371, 25 Laps
12. Pedro de la Rosa, HRT*, 1:23.676, 44 Laps
* 2011 car

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