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Raikkonen shakes off cobwebs in style

JEREZ DE LA FRONTERA, Spain, Feb 8 – 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.

“I did exactly as the team predicted, well almost everything,” said the driver known as the ‘Iceman’.

“We tried different things, checked others, and that is normal on the first day of testing in a new car.

“My first impressions are really good and I am very happy with the manner in which I drove.

“There are areas where we can still improve the car, but I’m not worried.

“After three weeks of testing, we will see much more clearly how things will be when the season begins.

“I feel good in the car and I’ve experienced far less successful first days of testing, in other cars, during my career.”

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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.

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.

Times and laps:

1. Kimi Raikkonen (FIN/Lotus-Renault) 1min 19.670sec 75 laps

2. Paul di Resta (GBR/Force India-Mercedes) 1:19.772 101

3. Nico Rosberg (GER/Mercedes) 1:20.219 56

4. Mark Webber (AUS/Red Bull-Renault) 1:20.496 54

5. Daniel Ricciardo (AUS/Toro Rosso-Ferrari) 1:20.694 57

6. Michael Schumacher (GER/Mercedes) 1:20.794 42

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7. Kamui Kobayashi (JPN/Sauber-Ferrari) 1:21.353 106

8. Jenson Button (GBR/McLaren-Mercedes) 1:21.530 62

9. Felipe Massa (BRA/Ferrari) 1:22.815 69

10. Heikki Kovalainen (FIN/Caterham-Renault) 1:23.178 28

11. Pastor Maldonado (VEN/Williams-Renault) 1:23.371 25

12. Pedro de la Rosa (ESP/HRT-Cosworth) 1:23.676 44

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