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Home > India > Sports > Formula One > Reuters > Report

Schumacher returns but Hamilton is quickest

February 26, 2008 04:11 IST

Lewis Hamilton [Images] gave retired seven times world champion Michael Schumacher [Images] a taste of his pace on the first day of Formula One's final pre-season test in Barcelona on Monday.

The 23-year-old McLaren driver, returning to the Circuit de Catalunya where he suffered racist abuse from spectators at the start of the month, topped the timesheets in 1:22.276 ahead of Ferrari's [Images] world champion Kimi Raikkonen [Images] in 1:22.319.

Schumacher, still quick at 39 years old and despite his retirement at the end of 2006, was third fastest in 1:22.428. He was stepping in as a one-day replacement for Brazilian Felipe Massa [Images] at Ferrari.

It was the first time the German had driven the F2008 car after participating in several tests for the Italian team last season. He did 83 laps to Raikkonen's 82 in a session that started wet and overcast.

Japan's [Images] Kazuki Nakajima was fourth fastest for Toyota-powered Williams, with McLaren's Finnish driver Heikki Kovalainen fifth and Germany's [Images] Nico Rosberg sixth for Williams.

Renault's double world champion Fernando Alonso [Images] was seventh.

"We spent most of the day doing pit stop practice with the mechanics and everything went okay, no problems," said the Spaniard. "It was important to do this to get everybody ready for the first race in Australia."

The Force India team gave their new VJM01 car its track debut, with Germany's Adrian Sutil setting the ninth fastest time of the 19 drivers present and Italian test driver Vitantonio Liuzzi 12th.

"We were running 60 percent of the aero package we will use in Australia and it seemed to go well," said technical head Mike Gascoyne in a statement.

The season starts in Melbourne on March 16.

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Formula One: The Complete Coverage