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Raikkonen quickest in first day of F1 preseason testing

Tue 7th, February 2012

Jerez, Spain (Sports Network) - Kimi Raikkonen's return to Formula One began on a high note when the 2007 world champion topped the timesheets in the first of a four-day preseason test session on Tuesday at Jerez.

Raikkonen, who spent the past two seasons competing in the World Rally Championship, turned in the best lap time of one minute, 19.670 seconds. The 32-year-old Finn completed a total of 73 laps around the Spanish circuit in Lotus' new E20 car.

"It's great to see the E20 at a race circuit and even better to get behind the wheel," Raikkonen said. "My initial impressions are good. I fit comfortably in the car, and it feels great in first and second gear. Now let's see what it can do tomorrow."

Paul di Resta from Force India was second fastest at 1:29.772, followed by Mercedes' Nico Rosberg (1:20.219).

Mark Webber posted the fourth quickest time in Red Bull's new 2012 car, the RB8. Webber's teammate and two-time defending F1 titleholder Sebastian Vettel is expected to test the car in the last two days of testing -- Thursday and Friday.

"It was great to experience taking a completely new car out of the garage," said Webber, who completed 53 laps in his first day of testing. "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."

Daniel Ricciardo from Toro Rosso was fifth, followed by Mercedes' Michael Schumacher and Kamui Kobayashi from Sauber.

Completing the top-10 were: McLaren's Jenson Button, Ferrari's Felipe Massa and Heikki Kovalainen from Caterham.

Eleven of the 12 F1 teams are participating in the Jerez test. Marussia (formerly known as Virgin Racing) have opted to skip Jerez completely, as the Russian-owned team continues to work on its MR01 car. The team hopes to have its new car on track for next month's test in Barcelona.

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