Max Chilton drives during last weekend's Spanish GP en route to a 19th place finish. (Photo: Getty Images)

drives during last weekend’s Spanish GP en route to a 19th place finish. (Photo: Getty Images)

Rain meant that F1 testing action got off to a slow start in Barcelona today, and once the track had dried out in the afternoon there was a surprise as Max Chilton set the fastest time of the day for .

The Briton was trying the supersoft tire – which will be used in Monaco – in qualifying trim, while rivals had very different objectives. Nevertheless it was a nice confidence boost for a team that has outpaced rivals Caterham recently.

“Generally we’ve had quite a successful day and to end it in P1 is obviously a real bonus,” said Chilton. “We’ve made steady progress throughout the day and to get the car to such a good place in terms of setup, and then be able to see just how much we can extract from it, is a really big step from the race on Sunday to what we have achieved today. The conditions were pretty tricky this morning and on one occasion caught me out when I locked up and went straight on into the gravel.

“After the lunch break, once the weather had improved, we were really able to start working through the setup improvements we wanted to explore further after the weekend. We went step by step through the program, verifying everything we had concluded from the race here, and we can be really pleased with where we’ve got the car to. With another day of testing, I think we can leave Barcelona with the package in a really strong position.”

Lotus third driver Charles Pic was second fastest on his first day in the E22, and indeed his first laps since last year’s Brazilian GP. The Frenchman was using medium tires.

“It was a good first time in the E22,” said Pic. “The new generation of cars are very different from those before with the new power units and all the other changes in how you drive them. I didn’t get so many laps in the morning as the weather was very different from what you’d expect for Barcelona, but I think we optimized the day and completed everything we could. It was good day for the team and a good day for me. It felt really great to be in the car – it’s been too long since Brazil last year!”

Lewis Hamilton was third fastest for Mercedes after a routine day for the team

“We completed a lot of practice starts and tried a few different things with the car during the afternoon once the track dried out a bit,” said Hamilton. “Of course, test days aren’t as much fun as a race but it’s part of the job. It’s important for the team and it’s also been productive for me in terms of getting the car where I want it after struggling at times last weekend.

“Conditions were obviously very different but we got some dry running in and I felt happier with the car by the end of the day. Every lap you do in the car you learn a little bit more and these in-season tests are useful given the limited running time we have.”

Kimi Raikkonen had an engine failure in the morning and finished the day in fourth, despite damaging the car with a trip into the gravel. Few other teams had much of interest to report, although Kamui Kobayashi had a crash in the Caterham, and Red Bull third driver Sebastien Buemi drove the RB10.

Tomorrow there will be a little more excitement as McLaren protege Stoffel Vandoorne has his first ever F1 outing, and Susie Wolff drives for Williams.

  1. Max Chilton (Marussia) – 1:26.434
  2. Charles Pic (Lotus) – 1:26.661
  3. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) – 1:26.674
  4. Kimi Räikkönen () – 1:26.674
  5. Jean-Eric Vergne (Toro Rosso) – 1:27.724
  6. Nico Hülkenberg (Force India) – 1:27.727
  7. Felipe Massa (Williams) – 1:27.756
  8. Jenson Button (McLaren) – 1:28.333
  9. Kamui Kobayashi (Caterham) – 1:30.101
  10. Sébastien Buemi (Red Bull) – 1:31.440
  11. Giedo van der Garde (Sauber) – 1:31.783