Kimi Raikkonen's Formula One comeback picked up speed on Monday when the Finn got back behind the wheel of a two-year-old Renault grand prix car at the Valencia circuit in eastern Spain.
The 'Iceman', 2007 world champion with Ferrari and winner of 18 races in his time with the Italian team and McLaren, is returning to Formula One this season after two years in the world rally championship.
Vital track time
Lotus, formerly Renault, said in a statement that the 32-year-old aimed to drive as many laps as possible in the two days in Valencia to get acquainted with his new team and reacclimatise himself with a Formula One car.
They issued a picture of Raikkonen, who last drove a Formula One car in 2009, on his first lap in the R30 - painted in Lotus's black-and-gold livery - at the Ricardo Tormo track.
The new Lotus will be launched on Feb. 5 before the first official test of the season at the Jerez track in southern Spain starts on Feb. 7.
Teams are not allowed to test up-to-date cars outside of official sessions which meant Raikkonen could drive only an older machine using demonstration tyres. The season starts in Australia on March 18 in Melbourne.
Trouble in Bahrain
It had been reported on 12 January on the online publication arabianbusiness.com that the owners of the Bahrain International Circuit was to reinstate every one of the 29 people that had participated in anti-government protests last year as a reconciliatory gesture. The same publication is now reporting that only three have been re-instated at their previous positions at the circuit that is owned by the royal family of the Bahrain kingdom.
Human rights groups in the region have continued to lobby to Formula One teams to boycott the Bahrain Grand Prix, that is scheduled to be the fourth round of this year's F1 world championship. A twist has been added with 1996 world champion Damon Hill being quoted in The Times newspaper as saying that F1 could go to Bahrain in 2012 with a "clean conscience".