Mercedes has given the strongest hint at its pace ahead of the 2015 Formula 1 World Championship season as Nico Rosberg topped the timesheets on day two with a blistering soft-shod lap at the Circuit de Catalunya.

Despite niggling issues delaying its progress early in the afternoon, Rosberg returned to the track with soft tyres fitted to the W06 for the first time this winter and promptly showed Mercedes' hand with a stunning 1min 22.792secs lap.

Some seven tenths faster than Felipe Massa's soft tyre benchmark from yesterday, it follows on from both Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton's ominous pace on the medium rubber and provides yet further evidence that Mercedes wields a notable advantage over its rivals heading to the Australian Grand Prix in just two weeks' time.

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Prior to Rosberg going quickest, Valtteri Bottas joined his Williams team-mate Massa in the 1min 23s with his own run on the soft tyre, but he would prove 1.2secs adrift of the Mercedes by the chequered flag.

Morning pace setter Felipe Nasr enjoyed a productive day, completing a race simulation, turning in 141 laps and using the soft tyres to set an encouraging 1min 24.071secs lap in the Sauber, ahead of Sebastian Vettel, who also built on the miles with a full 142 laps to his name.

Meanwhile, McLaren enjoyed a much needed productive day of running, Jenson Button exceeding the MP4-30's previous best single day total of 59 laps by reaching a full 100 laps. Frustratingly for the team, however, the car would stop on that 100th lap with around 20mins of the session remaining.

Even so, the Briton's lap of 1min 25.590secs was the closest thing to a performance lap this winter for McLaren and placed him ahead of Lotus' Pastor Maldonado - who stopped just two minutes before the end of the day -, Max Verstappen and Daniil Kvyat in the Toro Rosso and Red Bull.

Verstappen - getting his first run in the revised STR10 - was busy on track with his 139 laps, even though a problem would halt his day early, while the latter lost time with a stop early in the afternoon en route to 80 laps.

Force India, meanwhile, managed a welcome trouble-free afternoon as it added mileage to its new VJM08, Nico Hulkenberg managing a full 76 laps before the session was brought to an early conclusion by Button's stop.