Raikkonen Quickest at Paul Ricard

McLaren driver Kimi Raikkonen continued to demonstrate the pace of his upgraded Mercedes engine by setting the pace during the first day of testing at Paul Ricard

Raikkonen Quickest at Paul Ricard

The Finn, who powered to his third career victory at last weekend's Spanish Grand Prix with the help of an upgraded Mercedes power unit, set the pace with an early lap of 1:04.106 round the French circuit's 2D configuration.

Teammate Alex Wurz used the older specification engine and recorded a time more than 1.7 seconds slower than the Finn. The Austrian was completing data acquisition work for the Woking squad.

Riccardo Zonta completed electronic work for Toyota and recorded the second fastest time. The Brazilian worked alongside Frenchman Olivier Panis, eighth quickest today.

Championship leaders Renault had two drivers in action, with GP2 championship leader Heikki Kovalainen outpacing French test driver Frank Montagny after covering a massive 213 laps.

Despite serving a two-race ban, the BAR-Honda team were present at Paul Ricard with test drivers Anthony Davidson and Enrique Bernoldi.

Davidson was completing further work on new aerodynamic parts, now scheduled to be introduced at the European Grand Prix at the end of the month. Racing drivers Jenson Button and Takuma Sato will take over testing duties tomorrow.

Felipe Massa was the only man in action for the Sauber team, the Brazilian working mainly on tyre testing for Monaco. Massa will hand over to Jacques Villeneuve tomorrow.

"Although the track was a bit damp in the morning we were able to complete our programme of today as scheduled and without technical problems," said Sauber's race engineer Giampaolo Dall'Ara. "We mainly focused on the evaluation of new aerodynamic parts and worked with Michelin on the tyre side for the Monaco Grand Prix next week. Overall, the day was quite good and productive.

"Tomorrow Jacques will take over the driving and therefore we have planned to run a data validation of the aerodynamic and Michelin tyre tests which we did today. In addition, this week we will conduct a medium downforce and Michelin tyre programme in preparation for the races in Montreal and Indianapolis in June."

Testing continues tomorrow.

Today's times:

Pos  Driver        Team-Engine         Tyres  Time     Laps
 1.  Raikkonen     McLaren-Mercedes     (M)  1:04.106  146
 2.  Zonta         Toyota               (M)  1:04.623  106
 3.  Kovalainen    Renault              (M)  1:04.735  213
 4.  Montagny      Renault              (M)  1:04.786  152
 5.  Coulthard     Red Bull-Cosworth    (M)  1:05.066  102
 6.  Liuzzi        Red Bull-Cosworth    (M)  1:05.251  109
 7.  Bernoldi      BAR-Honda            (M)  1:05.273  171
 8.  Panis         Toyota               (M)  1:05.304   92
 9.  Massa         Sauber-Petronas      (M)  1:05.414  148
10.  Davidson      BAR-Honda            (M)  1:05.435  117
11.  Wurz          McLaren-Mercedes     (M)  1:05.746   93

All Timing Unofficial
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