Jerez morning report: Kimi fastest
Last Updated: 07/02/12 1:41pm
Kimi Raikkonen wasted little time in announcing his return to an official Formula 1 test after more than two years away in the new Lotus E20 this morning at Jerez, as a host of new Formula 1 cars burst into life on the opening day of pre-season.
With Williams having unveiled their new Renault-powered FW34 this morning, it meant that nine 2012 cars have been put through their paces at the twisty Spanish test venue to date - including the new Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari.
Raikkonen, who completed the E20's initial shakedown here on Monday, was quickly setting the early pace at the front, although it should be pointed out that times at the very start of pre-season are particularly meaningless as the day is all about teams running systems checks and early reliability runs rather than focusing on outright performance.
Although initially very chilly when the session got underway at 9am local time, the emergence of glorious blue skies over the circuit in southern Spain represented perfect conditions for the teams to work with their new challengers on the track in earnest for the first time.
Raikkonen didn't take long to break into the 1:20s and mid-morning moved onto a 1:19.670s and so far has an encouraging 50 laps on the board.
Britain's Force India driver Paul di Resta moved up to second just before 1pm on a 1:19.772s in the VJM05.
Mercedes, unlike their front-running rivals, have deliberately delayed the introduction of their 2012 car until the second test at Barcelona in a bid to maximise wind tunnel development time and so Nico Rosberg kicked off their pre-season in last year's W02, taking third spot early on.
Daniel Ricciardo is currently fourth on his test debut as a Toro Rosso race driver, ahead of Kamui Kobayashi in the new Sauber C31 and big guns Jenson Button (McLaren) and Felipe Massa (Ferrari).
Massa, in the aggressive-looking F2012 for the first two days at Jerez, initially ran with flow-vis paint across the car's rear wing as the Italian team completed some early aerodynamic assessments.
Mark Webber didn't appear in Red Bull's RB8 until just before midday, with the world champions explaining that the arrival of some components for the car were delayed due to heavy early-morning fog in the area. He has completed only eight laps to date in a best time of 1:21.474s.
HRT are the only other team in action with a 2011 machine, their new signing Pedro de la Rosa making his debut for the local Spanish squad this morning.
Provisional morning times from Jerez
1) Raikkonen 1:19.670 50 laps
2) Di Resta 1:19.772 52
3) Rosberg 1:20.219 56
4) Ricciardo 1:20.694 40
5) Webber 1:21.474 8
6) Kobayashi 1:22.112 29
7) Button 1:22.366 22
8) Massa 1:22.815 51
9) Kovalainen 1:23.178 23
10) Maldonado 1:23.371 16
11) De la Rosa 1:24.209 32