Schumacher quickest in testing return

Seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher made an impressive return to Formula One action by topping the times on the first day of testing at the Barcelona circuit

Schumacher quickest in testing return

The German driver, who had not driven a Grand Prix car in anger since he retired from the sport a year ago, posted a best time of 1:21:922 in Ferrari's F2007 to edge the Italian squad's test driver Luca Badoer by over a two tenths of a second after 64 laps.

Schumacher, 38, had driven the F2007 in a demonstration run at Ferrari's home track in Fiorano last month, but only for a handful of laps.

The German showed early in the morning that he has lost none of his speed, immediately setting fast times.

"I think there is a guy called Michael. It looks as though he's got a talent. He will make his way to F1," joked Red Bull's David Coulthard.

McLaren's test driver Pedro de la Rosa was third quickest, over seven tenths of a second behind Schumacher's time. The British squad worked also with Briton Gary Paffett, and both him and de la Rosa focused on running without driving aids on the MP4-22 car.

The BMW Sauber team had racing drivers Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica in action, both men concentrating, like most, on testing their cars without traction control. Kubica was the fastest of the two with the fourth quickest time, with Heidfeld down in 10th.

Jarno Trulli was ninth fastest for Toyota, although the Italian had a difficult day as he was suffering from a fever that makes things harder for him. Trulli, working alongside Franck Montagny, suffered an engine problem near the end of the session.

"It was nice to be back behind the wheel apart from the fact I was a bit sick today with a fever, so it wasn't the best way to get back in the car," said Trulli.

"But we managed to go through all of my programme and we looked at developments for the 2008 car, working without traction control and looking at other test items.

"In general it was a smooth day apart from my engine problem at the end, which was a shame. We have two more days remaining so we will continue to work hard and try to make as much progress as possible."

Briton James Rossiter was back testing with the Honda squad, setting the 17th quickest time in an hybrid car. He finished behind Andreas Zuber, who made his F1 debut at the wheel of last year's car.

Fellow F1 debutant Karun Chandhok tested with the Red Bull team and finished in 18th position.

Anthony Davidson was in charge of testing duties for Super Aguri, who were running with a hybrid car. Davidson evaluated the new controls system that will be mandatory next season, posting the 16th fastest time.

The Force India team, sporting their new colour scheme since taking over Spyker, used Giedo van der Garde and Roldan Rodriguez, the duo finishing at the bottom of the times.

Today's times:

Pos  Driver         Team                       Time     Laps
 1.  M.Schumacher   Ferrari              (B)   1:21.922   64
 2.  Badoer         Ferrari              (B)   1:22.129   76
 3.  de la Rosa     McLaren-Mercedes     (B)   1:22.687   63
 4.  Kovalainen     Renault              (B)   1:22.802   81
 5.  Kubica         BMW-Sauber           (B)   1:22.883   56
 6.  Paffett        McLaren-Mercedes     (B)   1:23.008   46
 7.  Nakajima       Williams-Toyota      (B)   1:23.187   66
 8.  Coulthard      Red Bull-Renault     (B)   1:23.332   55
 9.  Trulli         Toyota               (B)   1:23.624   46
10.  Heidfeld       BMW-Sauber           (B)   1:23.671   75
11.  Rosberg        Williams-Toyota      (B)   1:23.847   58
12.  Montagny       Toyota               (B)   1:23.861   61
13.  Vettel         Toro Rosso-Ferrari   (B)   1:24.048   77
14.  Zuber          Honda                (B)   1:24.065   77
15.  Bourdais       Toro Rosso-Ferrari   (B)   1:24.193   51
16.  Davidson       Super Aguri-Honda    (B)   1:24.246   70
17.  Rossiter       Honda                (B)   1:24.480   69
18.  Chandhok       Red Bull-Renault     (B)   1:24.896   39
19.  van der Garde  Force India-Ferrari  (B)   1:25.317   84
20.  Rodriguez      Force India-Ferrari  (B)   1:26.973   87

All Timing Unofficial
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