World champ Kimi fourth fastest in first day back


LONDON: Finn Kimi Raikkonen (left) reported back to work as Formula One world champion on Tuesday, testing for Ferrari for the first time since he won the title in October. 

Raikkonen, who beat McLaren's British rookie Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso by a single point in Brazil, was fourth quickest on a cool and sunny day at the Jerez circuit in southern Spain. 

Neither 22-year-old Hamilton nor double world champion Alonso, the Spaniard who has still to find a race seat for 2008 after his divorce from McLaren, were present although Hamilton will be testing on Wednesday. 

Renault, still looking like Alonso's most likely destination, said in a statement that Brazilian Nelson Piquet Jr would be in their car all week for the final test of the year. 

Piquet is strongly tipped to take one of the Renault slots next season, with Italian Giancarlo Fisichella released to test with Force India. 

Piquet was fifth fastest with BMW Sauber's Nick Heidfeld leading the timesheets in 1:19.042, and Honda's Jenson Button second. 

The top two were trying out Bridgestone's 2009 development slick tyres. 

McLaren have yet to name a replacement for Alonso, with Spanish test driver Pedro la Rosa a possible option from within the team as is Briton Gary Paffett. 

De la Rosa was third fastest, with Paffett seventh. 

BMW, still to confirm their reserve driver for 2008, tried out Estonian Marko Asmer and gave Spaniard Javier Villa his first taste of a Grand Prix car. 

Asmer, 23-year-old champion in this year's British F3 series, was more than half a second quicker than his younger rival according to BMW's unofficial times. – Reuters 

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