Having enjoyed a one-two on the opening day of Formula 1's second test of the winter at Jerez de la Frontera, Scuderia Toro Rosso made it a one-two-three on day two, as Sébastien Buemi extended his advantage over namesake Sébastien Bourdais and Takuma Sato joined the fray.
Buemi is viewed as practically a shoe-in for one of the two available drives at the Red Bull 'junior' concern in 2009, and as on the first day did his cause no harm at all by lopping a further seven tenths of a second off his best marker from Tuesday over the course of a marathon 128 laps of the southern Spanish circuit, ending up more than half a second clear of any
of his rivals.
Taking advantage of a damp surface early on from overnight rain, the young Swiss ace got his first experience of this year's intermediate rubber as he helped STR to complete its assessment of the 2010 Bridgestone rain tyres, before switching over to slicks later on and trying out a number of set-up options.
The 20-year-old also conducted a tyre comparison between the 'soft' and 'medium' compounds on offer, the latter performing consistently on this high-wear track. Unfortunately, the GP2 Series graduate's day ended a little ahead of schedule after a trip across a kerb caused slight damage to the car.
2008 incumbent Bourdais and out-of-work Super Aguri F1 refugee Sato shared the cockpit of the other STR3 during the day as they battle it out for what is likely to be the second seat at the small Faenza-based squad in 2009.
Due to the early inclement conditions, Bourdais remained in the car longer than had been anticipated, meaning Sato only got out for the final 90 minutes in the afternoon. However, the Japanese star was soon on the pace, carrying out performance and long-run testing and assessing various set-up options on the 2009 slick tyres as he wound up seven hundredths of a second quicker than Bourdais, despite completing fewer than half of the total laps that the Frenchman had done. Sato and Buemi will remain in the cars for the third and final day of testing.
Fourth and sixth on the end-of-day timesheets were the two McLaren-Mercedes' of test driver Pedro de la Rosa and Hungarian Grand Prix winner Heikki Kovalainen. The Spaniard focussed on the interim MP4-23A, concentrating his efforts on aerodynamic work as the Woking-based concern made its first attempt at running a 2009-configuration nose, reporting positive results.
The Finn, for his part, got his first taste of slick tyres, low downforce and KERS as he began his 2009 testing programme in the specially-equipped MP4-23K. The 27-year-old nonetheless proved to be on the pace immediately, adapting very well to the new regulations and able to provide good feedback to the engineers.
In-between the two Silver Arrows and three tenths of a second faster than countryman Kovalainen was 2007 F1 World Champion Kimi Raikkonen in the first of the Ferraris. The 17-time grand prix-winner did not venture out on-track in the morning, but when he did hit the circuit he continued the engine endurance programme he had begun the previous day and investigated more set-ups on the F2008 – fitted with slick tyres and reduced aerodynamic downforce – as well as experimenting with a few new components aimed at next season.