New Williams F1 2010 recruit Nico H?lkenberg denied Ferrari rival Fernando Alonso the pleasure of finishing his final pre-season test day on home turf in Barcelona on top of the pile - by outpacing the Spaniard by a scant two hundredths of a second to lead the way at the end of day two around the Circuit de Catalunya.

As the sun shone, the wind blew and the lap times tumbled from the opening day, H?lkenberg focussed his efforts on aerodynamic evaluation, starts practice and set-up work aboard his Cosworth-powered FW32, and professed himself encouraged by progress on his last day in the car before the curtain-raising Bahrain Grand Prix at Sakhir in just under a fortnight's time.

"We've had a good test here," the young German confirmed. "P1 today is nice but means nothing, to be honest - we're not in Bahrain yet! It's positive for the team, and for me, to know what the car can do, though. We did a lot of set-up work today and have found some interesting things, so I feel ready and confident to go to Bahrain now."

"Nico finished his last day of winter testing today with a good run of laps," corroborated the Grove-based outfit's technical director Sam Michael. "Our programme included the evaluation of a new sidepod, starts practice and some additional work on the set-up of the FW32. We're making progress, but there's still plenty to do."

Alonso, for his part, similarly concentrated on set-up work and an assessment of new aerodynamic components for the Scuderia's F10, as well as a successful race simulation over the course of his 133 laps inside the cockpit of the potent scarlet machine in front of thousands of partisan supporters. The Oviedo native will hand over for the last two days to team-mate Felipe Massa.

Third-quickest was veteran returnee Pedro de la Rosa in the Sauber-Ferrari C29, with the 'other' Spaniard conducting a simulation of free practice, qualifying and a race distance all in the course of a single busy day and encountering no technical issues.

"Today was a very good preparation for the season's start in Bahrain," underlined the just-turned 39-year-old, who will relinquish driving duties to young team-mate Kamui Kobayashi for Saturday and Sunday. "The reliability of the car was perfect and I think the performance was also good, especially in the race simulation.

"It was a very good exercise, and I feel we have now done everything possible to get ready for the first grand prix. It was also a big day for me, because it has been a while since I last completed a race distance. I feel very well and also really confident now."

"Overall it was a good test day for us," concurred the Hinwil-based concern's technical director Willy Rampf. "We improved the car's balance significantly compared to yesterday by doing some set-up changes. We then simulated an entire race weekend with free practice, qualifying and a full race distance without any technical problems. We are quite happy with the overall pace and reliability."

Next up - still less than half a second adrift of the outright pace - was Vitantonio Liuzzi in the Force India-Mercedes VJM03, as the Italian got through an intensive programme including a series of short runs and a full race distance later on, before team-mate Adrian Sutil takes over at the weekend.

"We can be quite happy about today's programme," stated the Italian. "We completed everything without any issues and the car showed very good reliability, even when we did the race simulation. Again it is responding very well, and we are improving day-by-day so everything is looking positive.

"We still don't know where we are relative to the others, and we will only see in Bahrain, but overall we can be really happy. We now have two more days of testing to try and get as much information as possible."

"Tonio covered more than 400km today, with some performance work in the morning and long run evaluations in the afternoon," added the Silverstone-based squad's chief race engineer Dominic Harlow. "Good conditions today mean that the testing has proven very useful for data collection and analysis of the performance of the car in a race situation. Other test items today included some suspension components, fuel system and control systems testing."

Two tenths behind Liuzzi was one of the early title favourites, Sebastian Vettel in the Adrian Newey-designed Red Bull Racing RB6, with the Heppenheim native completing the team's second race weekend simulation as he covered some 125 laps of the Montmel? track.

"It was good day," underlined the 22-year-old German. "We didn't have any major problems. We had to stop in the afternoon for a minor issue, but that's quite normal in testing. When you're testing, you don't want to risk any damage, so it's best to switch the car off and stop if you don't have to push when there's an alert in the background. We had a lot of rain at Jerez so we still have a lot to do over the last two days here, such as finding out more about the tyres and doing some set-up work."

"Today was almost a repeat of the race simulations we did with Mark yesterday and it all went pretty much to-plan," added RBR head of race engineering Ian Morgan. "We stopped the car again during the race simulation, which was precautionary to check a couple of things, but it was only a minor problem and we quickly got running again. Sebastian finished the race simulation completely before the end of the session; we did a lot of laps and we're pretty happy with the car."

Jaime Alguersuari put Red Bull 'junior' operation Scuderia Toro Rosso sixth at the end of a full race simulation on his last day in the Ferrari-powered STR5 prior to Bahrain, including a scheduled pit-stop and interrupted only by an unscheduled red flag stoppage.

Having practiced pit-stops at the factory on a daily basis over the winter and also at the three previous test sessions in Valencia and Jerez, Alguersuari's run allowed the STR race crew to tackle their first 'real' stops, using the new pit-stop gantry designed to accommodate the lack of race refuelling. After completing the full programme for the day, the team stopped testing ahead of the official end of the session.

"Today was very useful in that it is a good confidence boost to have completed a race simulation on my last day of testing before the start of the season," affirmed the Spanish teenager, who will be replaced in the car by team-mate S?bastien Buemi for the weekend. "It is still too early to talk about where we are in performance terms, but with a good mileage achieved over these four test sessions, I feel much better-prepared than when I made my debut in the middle of last year."

Comeback king Michael Schumacher was behind Alguersuari in seventh, continuing the development begun by team-mate and countryman Nico Rosberg the previous day behind the wheel of the Brackley-based outfit's MGP W01 with regards to balance and set-up over longer runs, in addition to further practice of the team's race weekend procedures, including pit-stops and practice starts in preparation for Sakhir.

"We had a positive day," revealed the German legend at the end of his 85 laps, "but it was quite stop-start with some changes on the car and then the red flags towards the end of the day. We are working hard and even if the programme doesn't run as smoothly as we would have liked, there is much more to come from the team both here and in Bahrain. We are working very well together and there is a good atmosphere within the team."

Fellow former world champion Lewis Hamilton wound up a low-key eighth for McLaren-Mercedes, with Canadian Grand Prix-winner Robert Kubica a similarly lowly ninth in his Renault, almost three seconds further back still after suspension woes stymied the Pole's efforts following a productive morning composed of shorter runs and set-up work. He completed only 53 laps in all.

"It's frustrating to lose track time this afternoon because of a problem with the suspension, but I'm sure the team will get on top of the issue so that we can have a good weekend," Kubica reported. "We have some new aero parts coming for the car on Saturday and Sunday, which will help improve its pace."

"Robert was in the car today for his first laps at Barcelona in the R30," added chief engineer Alan Permane. "We spent the morning doing some set-up work, but in the afternoon we had a problem with the suspension, which limited our running. We're still looking into the issue and will have the car fixed and ready for tomorrow morning."

Former Toyota team-mates Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock, finally, brought up the rear of the order for respective F1 2010 newcomers Lotus and Virgin Racing, with the former figuring ahead of the latter for the first time since both cars have been on-track. The Italian and German ended up separated by just over four tenths of a second.

To see the day two testing times from Barcelona, click here