Rain interfered with Formula One winter testing in Spain again Wednesday. Showers washed the track before the morning session and continued sporadically, keeping the 4.655-kilometer (2.889-mile) Circuit de Catalunya wet, puddly or damp all day. Teams scaled back miles and worked on other objectives.
Ferrari driver Felipe Massa slid to a quick lap of 1 minute, 30.673 seconds to lead unofficial times. The Brazilian went off track once, without damage.
Massa led Red Bull's Mark Webber at 1:31.213. A second Ferrari 2008 in the hands of test driver Luca Badoer (1:31.288) was followed by a second Red Bull RB4 piloted by David Coulthard (1:31.654). Renault's Fernando Alonso led the rest of the runners, all of them Toyota-powered. Alonso ran a quick lap of 1:31.731 in the R28.
"The weather was same as yesterday, and so again it was difficult to learn anything, and there was little point risking the cars in the tricky conditions," said Christian Silk, Renault's chief test engineer. "Fernando did some system checks in the afternoon, but as the conditions did not improve we ended the day early again. We will turn our attention to tomorrow and use the mileage when we feel we can get more out of it."
Red Bull had hoped to simulate Saturday practice and qualifying sessions and simulate a full race distance. The race simulation was postponed on hopes brighter skies appear on the morrow; the team replicated qualifying twice and practiced pit stops.
Williams driver Nico Rosberg ran to a 1:31.963 in an FW30. Rosberg again laughed at the rain, running to 97 laps, twice as many as any other runner save Williams test driver Nico Hulkenberg (1:33.102), who covered 53 laps. Race driver Kazuki Nakajima had no time but completed nearly a season's worth of pit stops.
"We spent the whole morning practising pit stops with the race team and both race drivers today," Williams test team manager Dickie Stanford said. "We completed approximately 40 pitstops in total. Nico Hulkenberg then took over from Kazuki in the afternoon and continued set-up work on the car while Nico (Rosberg) ran through some systems checks. The wet conditions really played havoc with the session for the second day in succession but we're expecting a drier day tomorrow, during which we will again run all three drivers."
Toyota drivers Timo Glock (1:32.407) and Jarno Trulli (1:32.571) in TF108s followed Rosberg.
"That was only half a day's work for me today because the morning was too wet for us to gain anything from testing," said Glock, who covered 33 laps. "In the afternoon we did some running in the wet conditions -- first on heavy wet tires, changing to standard wet tires. The track conditions changed quite a lot as the track dried out but not enough. It was difficult to draw conclusions but we found a similar picture to the dry, which will help us define where we concentrate our work."
Trulli, who covered 46 laps for 133 miles, said effort turned to one of making lemonade from lemons.
"It was another difficult day for testing so we just collected some data in order to understand how the car works in this type of weather," he said. "The positive thing is that we were able to learn about the tire warm-up behavior in these conditions. I'm returning to test here next week so, hopefully, we'll have better weather then. We have plenty of work ahead, but when the conditions are normal I do feel we can be competitive."
Dieter Gass, Toyota chief engineer for race and test, said the team again limited mileage because of track conditions and tires. Limited to 30,000 kilometers (18,641 miles) of testing, teams are reluctant to use the mileage in less-than-optimal conditions.
"We completed some more mileage in the afternoon with both cars -- Jarno doing aero work and Timo concentrating on set-up," Gass said. "But it is still difficult to assess data from this kind of running. We hope the weather should be better tomorrow, but we will have to see how long it takes for the track to dry out."
Renault's Nelson Angelo Piquet took no time after an installation lap.
"It is hard to be patient when you have spent two days waiting around for the weather conditions to improve," the Renault newcomer said. "I finished the day having completed only a single installation lap -- a bit frustrating for me and all members of the team who had hoped that the track conditions would have improved by the end of the day. Tomorrow the track conditions will be better and hopefully we will be able to complete some proper work."
McLaren Mercedes again gave a miss to testing on a wet track.
Down the Mediterranean Coast in Valencia, BMW Sauber drivers Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld enjoyed overcast skies with sunny breaks early on and light rain in the afternoon.
Kubica and Heidfeld ran their F1.08s to 257 laps of the 4.005-kilometer (2.488-mile) Ricardo Tormo track. Kubica set a fast lap of 1:12.893 in 121 laps. Heidfeld set a 1:13.542 in 136 laps.
The program included a full race simulation on a wet track that the F1.08s completed without technical problems. When the track began to dry in the afternoon, the team concentrated on set-up and aerodynamic and mechanical data collection.