After being forced to curtail its running in Barcelona last week, Lotus made the ideal return to action in the final pre-season test of the year at Catalunya after Romain Grosjean set the quickest time on day one.
Grosjean had managed just seven laps at the circuit last week before a chassis problem saw the team pack up for the week, with a series of revisions being made to the E20 back at Enstone before the team returned to Spain to resume its testing programme.
The French driver waited until late in the day to post his best time, with a lap of 1min 23.252secs coming during the final half hour of running. That was enough to move him ahead of Jenson Button, who ended the day 0.258secs behind in second place, having earlier led the way through the morning running.
Sergio Perez was third quickest for Sauber, with the Mexican having also caused the red flag to be thrown during the morning session when he completed an out-of-fuel run just before the lunch break.
Perez ended the day just 0.010secs clear of Mark Webber, who was the only driver other than Grosjean to set his quickest time during the afternoon at the wheel of the new RB8.
“I think this was a very good day for me," Perez said. "The car was performing well under varying conditions. We are working in the right direction, and I'm very much looking forward to getting into the car again for my final day of testing on Saturday."
Nico Rosberg was the busiest driver in action with nearly 130 laps under his belt en-route to fifth place for Mercedes with Jean-Eric Verge rounding out the top six for Toro Rosso. Vergne, who spent the latter part of the day working on pit-stop practice, was the final driver to lap within a second of Grosjean's benchmark time.
“It was a good day and I completed more laps than on any of my other times in the car so far," the Frenchman reflected. "I am feeling more confident and comfortable and I think we are also making steady progress on car development. The pit stops are also getting better and were an improvement on last week here.”
Paul di Resta was seventh for Force India ahead of the Ferrari of Felipe Massa, with Caterham's Vitaly Petrov and the Williams of Pastor Maldonado rounding out the top ten.
"We didn't complete as much running as we would have liked today, but we still gathered some good data," Maldonado said, having only completed 58 laps during the day. "This morning we ran our new front wing so we will analyse the results from our aero runs this evening. We completed a few longer runs during the afternoon as we investigated a number of set-up directions.