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.