Continued seasonal weather -- spring is still a ways off, remember -- affected eight drivers on track for Formula One testing at Jerez de la Frontera, Spain, on Tuesday. Toyota racer Timo Glock again set quick pace. The German put the TF109 atop timesheets with a fast tour of the 2.75-mile circuit at 1 minute, 19.814 seconds. That's closing on but not yet equal to the 1:19.055 set Sunday by Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel. But, of course, times are unofficial and belong in the testing context.
A mostly dull day with sunny breaks made for air temperatures that reached -- barely -- 70 degrees Farhrenheit. Track temperatures rose to slightly above 70 as the damp course dried.
Ferrari returned after what the team called a "time-out," that is, Monday's rain scuppered the scuderia's plan to test 2010 tire compounds from Bridgestone. Felipe Massa returned Tuesday to take the F60 to a quick lap of 1:20.238. The Brazilian put in 135 laps of setup work and long-distance reliability testing.
Double world champion Fernando Alonso got back behind the wheel after teammate Nelson Piquet's two days of running. The Spaniard from the North clocked a third-best 1:20.296 in a day-high 152 laps of running. Besides getting on slick tires by midmorning for setup work, Alonso tested new developments and added miles to the R29.
"Today was a very productive day as I managed to complete 152 laps, which gave us lots of useful data," Alonso said. "At this stage of the season it's important to have as much time in the car as possible to get used to the new rules, such as the movable wings and the KERS system, and so I'm happy to have done so much today. Every day we keep learning new things, and I'm feeling more and more comfortable in the car. Hopefully, tomorrow we can have another dry day to build on the work we did today."
Renault chief test engineer Christian Silk stamped a day a success.
"The circuit was a bit wet to start off with and so we used the damp conditions just to put some miles on the car," Silk said. "Fortunately, the circuit dried out by the middle of the morning, which allowed us to get on and do some good work to make up for some of the ground we lost in the wet yesterday. The car behaved very well and, overall, we're pleased with the results as we managed to achieve our objectives for the day."
The day's three fastest drivers pounded out 429 laps, plenty of chances to lower times.
Heikki Kovalainen arrived for a second day at the wheel of the McLaren Mercedes MP4-24. The Finn ran 85 laps with a best of 1:20.535. He used the morning's damp track for wet- and intermediate-compound tire evaluation. The drying track allowed a dry test of 2009-specification wings for the first time. Kovalainen then ran through setup evaluations.
Force India's Adrian Sutil took over for the third of his team's four days of testing -- some teams are in for five -- and posted a respectable 1:20.621 fast lap in the Mercedes-powered VJM02.
"I think today was a good day," Sutil said. "It was important to get into the car again and to get confident. The car was OK; there is definitely potential, and we were able to do more mileage and find some reliability in the afternoon. In the morning we had a little problem but we could fix it over lunch and start to do our program. The tires dominate a lot, and the different compounds react differently. You have to find a good setup and get them to work, and that is where we are concentrated now. We had some instability on the rear and oversteer, but we will see tomorrow. We are at least more reliable and can try and get some real mileage on the car now."
Technical director James Key elaborated on Sutil's 63 laps.
"Adrian took over from Giancarlo today, really the first time he had driven the car in anger following the shakedown last week," Key said. "As a result it was a learning experience for both him and us in many respects. The day was OK, we had a bit of downtime with a driveshaft issue, which we have already corrected, but it was good to have dry conditions and see a little bit more of what the car and tires are doing. We were finally able to do some setup work and have more direction and data on the tires, so it has been productive. We also had some test items that we will continue to evaluate tomorrow. Every run we are learning something new, and if it's as productive tomorrow as it was this afternoon we should be in for a very good day."
Leggy Mark Webber took the wheel of Red Bull's RB5. The Australian drove 98 laps in race weekend simulations. He suffered two minor interruptions on the way to a 1:21.021 best lap.
Robert Kubica set a quick lap of 1:21.069 as morning setup work in the damp gave way to aerodynamic setup development later on in the dry. A faulty sensor light prompted the Pole to stop on track and turn off the engine late in the afternoon. The problem was quickly sorted and he returned to add to a lap total ended, like Webbers', at 98.
"Overall it was a good day," Kubica said. "We were able to make up some of the time we lost yesterday when rain meant we had to change our schedule. I started on extreme wet tires, changed to wet tires and finally drove slick tires. Together with the various different setup solutions I tried, that helped me get an even better feeling for the car."
Nico Rosberg was a fourth driver putting in excessive laps, 125 of them, but the Williams racer held bottom of charts with a 1:21.412, not as good in comparison as Monday's third-best miles on the FW31.