Fernando Alonso set the pace on day two of Formula One's pre-season testing at the Valencia circuit with a 1m13.307s lap time. The Ferrari driver, 5th fastest yesterday recorded his time in the early afternoon and was not surpassed in what proved to be a productive day for the Spaniard as he completed 108 laps without major issues.
"At this stage it's difficult to feel the competitiveness of the car," Alonso declared. "I feel good. I remember starting with a new car, a three-lap run, then a six-lap run, then a 10-lap run. Slowly you build up the runs, you check the temperatures and everything."
Confirming that everything had gone according to plan, the double world champion explained there is still much to understand about the new look F1 cars.
"It was a good start for us," added Alonso. "Today we did more than 100 laps, which was the priority - to do a lot of kilometres. The moveable rear wing has been a new device for us so we are making use of the system. It's not so easy to activate and de-activate before the corner, so there is some time of practice before we get used to it.
"And again the same with the KERS. So these extra buttons on the steering wheel require some time. I had some time in the simulator and now this time today, so I can say I am quite happy with everything in the steering wheel. It has been a very productive day for us."
Having topped the timing sheets yesterday, defending champion Sebastian Vettel claimed 2nd for Red Bull with a 1m13.614s after completing 43 laps in the RB7.
Mark Webber took over from his German team mate in the afternoon, the Australian only managing 16 laps while clocking the 14th fastest time. "I didn't get so long in the car today, so we will start the real work tomorrow," he said. "There was a bit of a problem with the installation, something with the pedals, so it took a bit longer than we expected.
"It wasn't the smoothest day, but we're back tomorrow - it's great that the guys have got the car here for the first test and I'm looking forward to driving it more," added Webber.
Paul di Resta posted the 3rd quickest time of the day with a 1m13.844s and registering the most amount of laps with 111 in what proved another fruitful day for the Force India squad who were running their interim 2010 car.
"Another good day of testing for the team, gathering lots of information for the guys to work on as we prepare for the debut of the VJM04 next week," said di Resta. "We're now understanding a lot more about the performance of the Pirellis and the differences between the compounds, particularly with regards to long and shorter runs and different fuel loads. At this stage we're not going for times, just trying to get representative data to work on. I'm feeling good and well integrated into the team and my new role, there's a really positive atmosphere, which will set us up extremely well for next week when the new car testing programme starts.
In the hybrid McLaren MP4/25 for the first time, Lewis Hamilton announced himself with a 1m14.353s claiming the 4th position and declaring himself happy with his first day back. "It felt great to be back in the car," he told the official McLaren website. "I haven't been driving for a while, so it felt good to brush away the cobwebs, and I felt at home straight away.
"Even though we were using the 2010 car, we had quite a productive day. We were trying to replicate 2011 downforce levels on the old car - so it wasn't 100 per cent accurate - but we still got a good understanding of the new Pirellis and covered quite a lot of ground."
Robert Kubica ended the day 5th fastest in the Renault R31 on a 1m14.412s with Narain Karthikeyan in the HRT a surprising 6th, ahead of Nico Rosberg who had a more productive day than yesterday with the German completing 69 laps in the new Mercedes.
Running the interim VR-01, Timo Glock posted the 8th fastest lap for Virgin, ahead of Rubens Barrichello in the Williams, Sergio Perez's Sauber and Pastor Maldonado in the second Williams.
"We learnt a lot," confirmed Barrichello to reporters. "It is a very different car to the FW32 and needs a different set-up and understanding. The balance of the car was difficult, but it's always hard to get a car to feel good on that amount of fuel. I will just have to work on it and see what we get back. Unfortunately, we lost a bit of time yesterday due to a problem with the Kers, but we kept going out to build up mileage."
Sebastien Buemi and Jamie Algersuari posted the 12th and 13th fastest laps respectively for Toro Rosso with Heikki Kovalinen propping up the rear having been forced to cancel the test due to power steering issues after only 15 laps.
Lotus will fly the system back to base in the UK and work on the cars overnight before sending them, back to Valencia in time for day three of the test.
Confirming his retirement from the day's proceedings, the Finn said on Twitter: "First feeling with the new car was very positive, just didn't get proper running due to a power steering failure, got some checks done anyway."
Team Lotus technical chief Mike Gascoyne also declared on Twitter that there was much to do over the next 18 hours: "Testing finished for today due to power steering problem," he said. "Need to get it back to the UK and fixed and rebuilt overnight ready for morning."
Tomorrow is the last day of testing at Valencia this week before the F1 circus moves to Jerez next week.