F1 veteran Michael Schumacher was a near permanent fixture in top spot on the timesheets throughout the second day of the opening group test of 2012 at Jerez, keeping all the latest-spec cars at bay.

The German, one of two drivers still using a car from last season and therefore not subject to the various rule changes governing the design of the latest machines, bumped early pacesetter Mark Webber from P1 midway through the morning session, and remained P1 for the rest of the day as attention turned away from ultimate pace and onto longer assessment runs.

Unable to test too much in the way of developments for 2012, the Mercedes team focused on evaluating the latest range of Pirelli tyres, which the Italian manufacturer has tweaked in search of more exciting racing this coming season.

"We made the most of a reliable car today to do lots of laps and learn a lot about the new Pirelli tyres, and how they perform on longer and shorter runs, and with different set-up configurations," Schumacher confirmed, "It was a good and productive test, full of lots of useful information for the season ahead, and I am now looking forward to driving our 2012 car for the first time at the next test."

Webber remained second overall, despite trailing more than half a second behind Schumacher's best time, as he completed his initial two-day spell in the new Red Bull RB8.

After a slow start to day one, when vital parts were delayed by fog at Jerez airport, Webber was out early on day two, and immediately moved to the top of the charts, confirming that Red Bull is again likely to be a threat in 2012. Having reached a best time of 1min 19.184secs, however, the Australian was unable to improve any further, and could only watch as Schumacher usurped him with a flurry of flying laps that eventually left the benchmark at 1min 18.561secs, more than a second faster than Kimi Raikkonen's target time from day one.

"It was pretty good today, [and] I think we're making good progress although, as I keep saying, it's still very early days in the concept of the car and we have a lot to get through before we race it," Webber pointed out, "But it's the same for all the teams.

"We did well on the mileage today - I guess we could have done a bit more, but it was positive overall and the conditions were good to test in."

Third place fell to the man many are earmarking as Webber's replacement at Red Bull, Daniel Ricciardo. The younger Australian dogged his countryman's wheeltracks on the timesheets throughout the day, before winding up four-tenths adrift in the new Toro Rosso.

Ricciardo completed more than a hundred laps during the day, and this allowed the team to get through its programme, which was split between short runs during the morning and a longer one in the afternoon.

"I am happy with what we did today," Ricciardo noted, "One hundred laps is around twice the distance we did yesterday, so we achieved our aim of getting plenty of miles for me and the car with a mix of short and long runs, trying three different tyre compounds. I also did some practice starts and pit entry tests, just about as much as one can do in one day.

"We have made progress and were even able to do some back-to-back runs to start finding out how the car reacts to set-up changes."

The two Australians were the only ones in the 1min 19secs bracket, and both ducked under Raikkonen's previous benchmark, with new Force India reserve Jules Bianchi coming closest to joining them. The Frenchman was given half a day in the Silverstone's team's new VJM05, sandwiched between outings for Paul di Resta, and performed respectably in setting a 1min 20.221secs best.

"It was a really good morning and great to get my chance in the new car so early on," Bianchi admitted, "There was a lot to get used to, especially the steering wheel and remembering where all the switches are, but it didn't take too long before I felt happy in the car.

"It may only have been half a day, but the team asked me to do quite a lot of things and we managed to complete almost 50 laps before lunch. For me, this year is all about learning and helping the team as much as I can, so today was important for that and getting to know the team. It's great that I am back in the car tomorrow and I will try and get closer to the limit, because it's important preparation for my Friday practice running this year."

Team-mate di Resta took over for the afternoon 'session' - there is no designated lunch interval scheduled on any day - and worked his way down to 1min 20.272secs, but wounded up sixth overall for the day after finding himself in a tightly-matched group covered by a matter of tenths.

"Half a day, but quite intense, [with] 69 laps in just over three hours, which is a really good effort," di Resta summed up, "But it was also one of the more difficult days because the wind seemed to get very strong from midday onwards, which made driving the car very tricky. However, we managed to get a clear direction on a couple of set-up changes, so that's given us an indication of the areas we should explore over the coming weeks.

"After 101 laps yesterday and 115 today, we've clearly built a good, strong car, but now it's about getting into the detail, going over the data and getting ready for Barcelona."

The two Force Indias sandwiched day one pacesetter Raikkonen, who recovered from an early off that took him through one of the circuit's numerous gravel traps to end the day in fifth spot. The Finn returned to the scenery late in the day, but completed his programme in between.

Behind di Resta, Ferrari's Felipe Massa edged out Jenson Button for seventh spot as he again spent the day collecting data on various aspects of the F2012, while the Briton was happy with another productive day spent getting used to the new MP4-27 chassis and evaluating a series of braking, set-up and software changes, particularly their effect on balance and stability at both high and low speeds.

"It's satisfying that Jenson's been able to complete more than 600km of trouble-free running over the past two days, as that puts us in a good position for the rest of the week," team manager David Redding said, "Despite the cold and windy conditions, Jenson was able to log further mileage with MP4-27 today. It's still early days, and this was very much an exploratory day, but we were able to get a useful understanding of how the car behaves and reacts out on the track."

Button was closely followed by Sergio Perez, who replaced Kamui Kobayashi in the lone Sauber. The Mexican completed 68 laps, but his pit crew had an equally busy day implementing some new aero parts and fixing a fuel system problem in the afternoon.

"For me, it was a positive day," Perez insisted, "It was great to be back on track after the winter break and, so far, I'm happy with the new car. I feel confident. It was a shame that we lost track time due to the fuel system problem in the afternoon, but I think we can catch up tomorrow. We have a huge programme for Thursday and I'm looking forward to it very much. Compared to yesterday, we have already learnt a great deal more about the C31."

Former GP2 Series rival Pastor Maldonado was next up, rounding out the top in the new Williams. Looking more confident with his new mount than he had on the opening day, the Venezuelan clocked 1min 21.197secs during the morning to move ahead of Heikki Kovalainen's Caterham.

The Finn had the honour of running his team's first KERS-powered test, having run with a 'dummy' unit on day one. As with much of the programme so far, Kovalainen reported no problems with the new technology.

HRT's Pedro de la Rosa made a late start to the team's second and final day of action at Jerez, but knocked a couple of seconds off his previous best mark, albeit remaining twelfth overall.