F1 veteran Pedro de la Rosa left Jerez buoyed by the rate of progress both he and his HRT team had made over the past couple of days.

HRT, apart from Mercedes the only team to run their 2011-spec machine, used the first two days of the initial winter test purely to familiarise itself with the slightly different Pirelli rubber, which has been tweaked from last season.

For de la Rosa, it was also a case of blowing the cobwebs away as he made his first outing since the Canadian GP last year, along with a chance to get to know his new 'national' team.

At the end of the second and final day, the Spaniard posted a time of 1min 22.128secs, just over three-and-a-half seconds shy of Michael Schumacher's ultimate pace.

"Today we progressed quite a bit as the day wore on; we've got more out of the car without having changed practically anything," the Spaniard said, "Above all, today served me to get to know the tyres better. We all got to know each other a bit better and worked well together. I got rid of the rust yesterday and today I refreshed myself.

"On the first day the objective was not to go to the limit, but to get to know the people and for all of us to start working together. And the team did a good job.

"Today was more about seeing how far I could go, and that is why I think we improved on our times so much. I'm even more satisfied than yesterday but, on a personal note, I drove better.

"I'm leaving with a smile on my face and very much looking forward to Barcelona."

HRT's chief race engineer, Toni Cuquerella also hailed the past couple of days as 'good practice' for the team. Cuquerella now expects to arrive in Barcelona with the same vigour as they debut their 2012 challenger.

"The two days of testing have served as good practice for the team, the majority of which is new, the equipment, which is also new, and also as a chance for Pedro to try out last year's car and regain feelings at the steering wheel," he noted, "We haven't experienced major problems and completed the test programme with both the systems and the team working well.

"We've also extracted enough data from the new compound tyres with this car to be able to compare it with the data regarding 2011's tyres and reach conclusions that will help us for the next tests.

"Therefore we can say that we've met our targets for these tests. When we arrive in Barcelona with the new car, everything else will be in place so we can fully concentrate on the car."

by Simon Evans

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