JEREZ de la frontera, Spain, Feb 7, 2012 (AFP) - Finland's 2007 Formula One world champion Kimi Raikkonen set the fastest time in his Lotus-Renault during pre-season testing here on Tuesday.
The 32-year-old Raikkonen - winner of 18 grands prix - is putting this year's model through its paces as he returns to Formula One after two years away.
Raikkonen won his 2007 crown with Ferrari before switching to the World Rally Championship in 2009 followed by a spell in Nascar racing.
Double world champion Sebastian Vettel of Germany arrives here on Friday to test the RB8, with his Australian teammate Mark Webber, who is testing the car earlier in the week, clocked the fourth fastest time for Red Bull-Renault on Tuesday.
With temperatures hiting just 2°C (36°F) as testing began at nine o’clock, it was Caterham and Heikki Kovalainen were the first out of the garage, but it was the Finn's countryman who regsitered the best times.
Raikkonen's time of 1:19.670 set during a productive morning for Lotus went unbeaten throughout the day as the 2007 world champion cricle the track for about 75 laps. Paul di Resta was the only other driver to drop below the 1m20s barrier as he set a best time of 1:19.772 during his 101 laps in Force India's new VJM05.
The Force India driver was also one of only two to clock over a 100 laps, with the other being seventh-placed Kamui Kobayashi for Sauber; however, the Japanese did cause a late red flag, 20 minutes before the end of the session, as he ground to a halt on the run to Dry Sack corner.
Testing runs until Friday with further sessions at Barcelona from February 21-24 and March 1-4, before the GP opener in Melbourne, Australia on March 18.
|1||Kimi Raikkonen||Lotus E20||1:19:670||74|
|2||Paul di Resta||Force India VJM05||1:19:772||101|
|3||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes W02||1:20:219||56|
|4||Mark Webber||Red Bull RB8||1:20:496||54|
|5||Daniel Ricciardo||Toro Rosso STR7||1:20:694||57|
|6||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes W02||1:20:794||42|
|7||Kamui Kobayashi||Sauber C31||1:21:353||106|
|8||Jenson Button||McLaren MP4-27||1:21:530||61|
|9||Felipe Massa||Ferrari F2012||1:22:815||69|
|10||Heikki Kovalainen||Caterham CT01||1:23:178||28|
|11||Pastor Maldonado||Williams FW34||1:23:371||25|
|12||Pedro de la Rosa||HRT F111||1:23:676||44|