Sebastian Vettel was the man to beat on the opening day of the second pre-season F1 test at the Catalunya circuit in Spain.

The defending champion showed his rivals the way for much of the day having moved to the top of the timesheets during the morning session at the wheel of the new Red Bull RB8 and then remaining out front through until the chequered flag flew at 5pm local time.

There was a small improvement from Vettel late on - one of the few in the afternoon as most drivers elected to focus on longer runs - and he eventually finished the day with a best lap of 1min 23.265secs.

That left Vettel just under two-tenths of a second clear of countryman Nico Hulkenberg, who impressed for Force India to set the second quickest time. Hulkenberg had been quickest for a spell during the morning before Vettel usurped him at the top of the timesheets, with the pair ending the split by 0.175secs.

Lewis Hamilton was third quickest for McLaren after a busy day where the Briton completed in excess of 100 laps while Daniel Ricciardo was only slightly slower for Toro Rosso on what was another impressive day for the Italian team.

Home hero Fernando Alosno was fifth, half a second further back, for Ferrari while the top six was completed by Michael Schumacher as the new Mercedes W03 managed more than 50 laps on its first testing appearance, having been launched earlier in the day at the circuit.

Sergio Perez was the last man within a second of Vettel's quickest time for Sauber and was seventh quickest with Bruno Senna rounding out the top eight for Williams.

Heikki Kovalainen was ninth for Caterham but only after a troubled day for the Finn, who caused one two red flags when he was forced to stop with a broken track rod. After repairs in the garage, he managed to complete just over 30 laps - more than were managed by Romain Grosjean who completed just seven before Lotus halted its programme after the Frenchman reported that all wasn't well with the second E20 chassis.

Bottom of the times on his first outing of the year was Marussia driver Charles Pic, with the team running its 2011 car this week before the launch of its 2012 car. Pic managed 121 laps but was more than 4.7secs down on Vettel's benchmark.