Iceman is back!!!Kimi Raikkonen marked his official Formula One return with the fastest time of the first day of pre-season testing at Jerez. The 2007 world champion went fastest straight out the blocks and was never displaced, as four fast stints in the morning allowed him to get down to a 1m19.670s., faster than any testing laps at the Spanish track throughout 2011. It was also faster than anyone else would manage all day, particularly with the afternoon session proving slower than the morning.
Force India's Paul di Resta came closest to displacing Raikkonen at the top of the timesheets, missing out by just over one tenth of a second. A successful day was boosted by the fact the Scot was able to complete over 100 laps.
As always, the headlines times should not be taken as a simple reflection of who’s quickest and who’s slowest. For example, HRT (running last year’s car) were only 5% slower than the fastest time, well below the 7-8% range typically seen in last year’s races. With nine new cars in action on the first day of the test some teams had comparatively quiet days.
Mark Webber got the year off to a slow start for defending champions Red Bull. He was unable to run during the first few hours of the session as fog at the track delayed the arrival of parts for the new RB8. Heikki Kovalainen logged 28 laps in the new Caterham CT01 but his day’s running came to an end when the car’s starter developed a fault.
Another driver whose test ended early was Daniel Ricciardo. A drop in oil pressure on his Toro Rosso STR7 caused him to pull over with just over half hour remaining, causing the first red flag of the day. “We had a very productive morning, doing over 40 laps and we made good progress with our programme,” said Ricciardo. “Then in the afternoon, we did a couple of longer runs, but had to cut it short, although we only lost an hour. I was using the medium tyre on that last run, having used hard tyres for the rest of the day.”
Meanwhile Kamui Kobayashi, who had shaken down the Sauber C31 yesterday, did over 100 laps in the new car today. But he hit trouble with less than half an hour left in the session, bringing the red flags out a second time. A brief restart gave Pedro de la Rosa time to post the final improvement of the day in last year’s HRT, before the chequered flag brought the first official test day of 2012 to an end.
Pos Driver Team Time Gap Laps 1. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1:19.670 73 2. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1:19.772 + 0.102 101 3. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:20.219 + 0.549 56 4. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:20.496 + 0.826 53 5. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:20.694 + 1.024 57 6. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1:20.794 + 1.124 41 7. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1:21.353 + 1.683 106 8. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:21.530 + 1.860 60 9. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:22.815 + 3.145 69 10. Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1:23.178 + 3.508 28 11. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1:23.371 + 3.701 25 11. Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1:23.676 + 4.006 44