Feb.7 (PVM) After a two year lay-off, Kimi Raikkonen ended day one of the first official Formula 1 test at Jerez fastest of all in the Renault E20, sending a signal down the pit lane that the Iceman is back!
Raikkonen spent most of the day top of the timing screens, and was quickly up to a strong pace, proving that the two years away did little to temper the Finn’s blistering speed.
It also suggests that the E20, pretty much like it’s ill-fated predecessor – the R31, is a handy piece of kit, straight out the box.
Raikkonen powered around Jerez in 1 minute 19.670 seconds, racking up 75 laps in the process, which was 0.102 seconds up on next best, Paul Di Resta at the wheel of the new Force India VJM05.
Notably Raikkonen’s best time on the day was faster than the best time set last year at Jerez, after the first day, in similar conditions.
Raikkonen summed up his day: “It was a positive first day of testing and everything went almost to plan. We had no major issues and I got a good feel for the car and the tyres. The tyres were more of a challenge in the afternoon when we ran with a scrubbed set, but overall it was a positive day. 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.”
The team’s technical boss James Allison observed, “You can tell Kimi is a class act. He gets in the car and is on the pace straight away; there’s no building up to it. His commitment is instant and the lap times show that. His fitness level is also good which has allowed him to be consistent, and he hasn’t had any major ‘moments’ out on track; he seems to have everything very much under control.”
Di Resta, second on the timing sheets, had a productive day racking up 101 laps and setting a best time of 1 minute 19.772 seconds.
Next best was Nico Rosberg in the 2011 Mercedes MGP-W02, who was in the cockpit in the morning ticking off 56 laps before handing over to team mate Michael Schumacher for the afternoon. The seven times world champion ended the day sixth fastest and amassed 42 tours of Jerez.
The much anticipated Red Bull RB8 made it’s track debut, but was delayed as parts arrived late, but with Mark Webber behind the wheel the Adrian Newey brainchild looked rapid right from the outset, with the Australian taking a mere four laps to get into the top three best times and clocking 300km/h plus at the speed traps. Ominous signs from the world champions.
It was an early shower for Daniel Ricciardo in the Toro Rosso STR7 as he coasted to a halt with an oil pressure problem, which brought out the first red flag of the day. Ricciardo’s day was over but he will be pleased with the fifth best time of the day with 57 laps on the board.
Kamui Kobayashi in the Ferrari powered Sauber C31 ended the day seventh best, but ran out of fuel to prompt the second and final red flag of the day.
Somewhat subdued on the opening day were Jenson Button (McLaren MP4-27) and Felipe Massa (Ferrari F2012) who ended the day eighth and ninth fastest respectively. Button more than two seconds off the pace and Massa three seconds down on Raikkonen’s best.
Heikki Kovalainen rounded out the top ten in the Caterham CT01, with Pastor Maldonado running the Williams FW34 with Renault power for the first time, ending the day 11th and Pedro de la Rosa in last year’s HRT slowest of all.
For sure these are early days and reading anything into Raikkonen’s early pace is a moot exercise, but for any team to rather end the first day at the top of the timing sheets than at the bottom will be a morale booster, which will be heartily welcomed by the Enstone team, having endured a torrid 2011 and entering 2012 with an all new driver line-up.
And of course the Iceman is back! Welcome back Kimi Raikkonen!
Jerez Testing Day 1 Results – Tuesday, 7 February 2012
|2||Di Resta||Force India||1.19.772||+0.102||101|
|12||De La Rosa||HRT||1.24.209||+4.539||44|