Heidfeld goes quickest at Barcelona

Nick Heidfeld led the way for BMW Sauber on the first day of the final pre-season group test at the Circuit de Catalunya on Monday

Heidfeld goes quickest at Barcelona

Although the F1.09 has had a fairly low-key testing programme so far, Heidfeld's best lap of 1:20.339 saw him end the day more than half a second clear of Kimi Raikkonen.

Jarno Trulli was third quickest for Toyota, just ahead of Jenson Button.

"This morning started off with drizzly conditions but the rain quickly tailed off, giving us the chance to have a good day's work," said Trulli. "The afternoon was windier but the track surface was fine.

"The car felt well balanced from the start and we worked on several new things on the aero side which gave us positive results. We were competitive throughout the day and we collected a lot of data so this was a useful start to the test."

Button was the talking point of the day after spending much of it at the top of the timesheets.

Just four days after the former Honda Racing outfit were given the green light to continue in F1, Button was consistently fast as he made his return to the cockpit for the first time since the end of last year.

The Brawn GP car caused a few raised eyebrows up and down the pitlane too, thanks to the design of its diffuser and some aero tweaks at the front end of the car.

Nelson Piquet was fifth quickest in the Renault, finally getting some decent running after a trouble testing programme so far.

"It was a really positive day for me and nice to be able to complete so many laps on a dry track," Piquet said. "I feel a lot more comfortable in the car now and, as we didn't have any issues during the day, I could get on with the set-up programme, which taught us some interesting things about the car."

Sebastien Bourdais completed the first public running for his new Scuderia Toro Rosso STR4 to set the sixth best time

Behind seventh fastest Mark Webber in the Red Bull Racing RB5 was Adrian Sutil in the Force India, who had another productive day.

"I feel quite confident and pleased with the progress we made today," said Sutil. "129 laps is a good achievement and we got a lot more data. We simulated a race and qualifying and actually it felt good.

"We did a long run, which was very important to see how the tyres react over this distance. I feel actually much more prepared for Melbourne, but let's see tomorrow if we can improve our times as the track conditions in the morning were not ideal."

McLaren's Heikki Kovalainen ended the day at the bottom of the timesheets - more than 2.6 seconds adrift of Heidfeld's best time.

Today's times:

Pos Driver Team Time Laps 1. Heidfeld BMW-Sauber (B) 1:20.339 92 2. Raikkonen Ferrari (B) 1:20.908 80 3. Trulli Toyota (B) 1:20.937 118 4. Button Brawn-Mercedes (B) 1:21.140 82 5. Piquet Renault (B) 1:21.662 124 6. Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) 1:22.158 96 7. Webber Red Bull-Renault (B) 1:22.246 115 8. Sutil Force India-Mercedes (B) 1:22.452 127 9. Nakajima Williams-Toyota (B) 1:22.813 111 10. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes (B) 1:22.948 87 All Timing Unofficial 
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