Second in the morning session, fastest in the afternoon, Carlin Motorsport rookie Jaime Alguesuari appeared very much at ease in the final warm-up for his first season in the World Series by Renault.
The Catalan drivers were on form on their home track, as Alguesuari matched another Barcelona native, Ultimate Motorsport's Miguel Molina, in both sessions. Brendon Hartley - only recently called up by the Tech 1 Racing squad - was also learning fast, setting the third fastest lap of the day on his first real outing in a WSbR car.
"You can't place too much importance on fastest laps," Alguersuari commented, "What matters is being quick tomorrow in qualifying. The hardest thing is yet to come. I need to keep working like this. Mind you, it's encouraging to see that we're heading in the right direction."
Joining Hartley among the new pairings on show during the pre-race test, Interwetten.com fielded the recently-confirmed Adrian Zaugg and Mikhail Marinescu, while Daniil Move made the rumoured switch to partner James Walker at P1 Motorsport. FMaster convert - and recent Atlantic Series debutant - Harald Schlegelmilch, meanwhile, completed the Comtec Racing line-up. Zaugg was the best placed of the quartet, taking seventh spot, while Move put his prior series experience to good use in ninth.
As part of the regulations, all drivers were obliged to start the day on fresh tyres, and it took a few minutes to see the first significant hierarchy develop. Adrian Valles (Epsilon Euskadi) claimed the top of the timesheet straight away, before quickly being knocked back by Tech 1 Racing's Charles Pic and Draco's Bertrand Baguette. Halfway through the session, Molina had taken control, with a lap of 1min 33.542secs good enough to lead Alguesuari, Baguette, Move and Pic.
The traffic on the track was less dense as P1 Motorsport's James Walker took his chance to squeeze into third place between Alguesuari and Baguette, and the positions would not change again as a crash for Prema Powerteam's Frankie Provenzano put paid to the morning session.
Despite a few spots of rain before the end of the day, the afternoon got off to a flying start, with a tussle between Molina, Carlin's Oliver Turvey and Pic. The Frenchman eventually gained the upper hand, then saw Baguette set a better time with a lap of 1min 34.221secs shortly before the session was interrupted by a crash for Mofaz Fortec Motorsport's Sten Pentus.
After the restart, the first significant improvements were made by Chris van der Drift, entering the top five for Epsilon Euskadi, and Zaugg, who vaulted into second, only for the session to be stopped once again, this time when Marinescu left the track.
Several drivers took the opportunity of some downtime to fit new tyres for one last flying lap. Among them, Alguesuari eventually moved to the top of the timesheet with a lap of 1min 33.537secs, taking former Carlin/Red Bull F3 team-mate Hartley towards the top with him.
"I only found out that I'd be racing on Wednesday, and have only had a day of try-outs with the old car more than a year ago, so I had to learn everything about this car," the Kiwi admitted, "I had try-outs for F1, but apart from FRenault and F3, I don't have much experience, so this morning I was quietly getting to grips with the car. We've worked hard with the Tech 1 engineers and tried to up the pace in the second session, but our aim is to find the right rhythm here to really prepare for Spa-Francorchamps."