Former world champion Kimi Raikkonen set an early pace in his return to Formula One racing on Tuesday as pre—season testing got underway.

The Finn Raikkonen recorded 1 minute 19.670 seconds on the 4.42km course in southern Spain in a Lotus.

“Not a bad start!” tweeted the team as Raikkonen drove some 50 laps in the first half of the day.

Raikkonen won the title in 2007 for Ferrari and is now back in the sport from a two—year hiatus with Lotus, the former Renault team.

He is one of six world champions for the 2012 campaign, the others being title holder Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull), Fernando Alonso (Ferrari), Michael Schumacher (Mercedes), Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton (both McLaren).

Paul di Resta was second by midday for Force India and Nico Rosberg was third in a 2011 Mercedes.

Mark Webber drove only four laps in the RB8 in the morning for world champions Red Bull. The Australian will also drive on Wednesday before Vettel gets his first laps Thursday and Friday.

Two further testing rounds follow ahead of the March 18 season—opener in Australia.

Schumacher and Rosberg will have to wait for the second tests from February 21 onwards in Barcelona to have their new car available.

“We planned our buildup this way. And we will drive the car for a few days before the official second test. Last year we tested a car early which wasn’t ready. This year we want to test a few days later with a car we want to use in the first races,” said Mercedes motorsport chief Norbert Haug.

The opening day of testing also saw the rollout of the new Williams for Bruno Senna and Paolo Maldonado. Like all other cars, apart from McLaren who chose an elegant curved version, the FW34 has a stepped nose.

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