Lewis Hamilton of McLaren Mercedes led Formula One testing time charts at Hockenheim, Germany, for a second day ahead of the German Grand Prix later this month. Race setup work, tire comparisons, and mechanical and aero development testing continued for all 10 teams.
Working in morning overcast and afternoon sun, the drivers-race co-leader completed 101 laps in the MP4-23 and posted the only time under 1 minute, 15 seconds. Hamilton's 1:14.872 shaded Nico Rosberg of Williams, who ran 117 laps to set a 1:15.257 as second-best.
Test times are always unofficial but Hamilton's week, following his dominance of the British Grand Prix last Sunday, indicate McLaren might have moved that notch ahead that will make the difference in the two FIA world championships decided by the F1 series. Ferrari has shown top straight-line speed through the first half of the season; McLaren might be ready to change that.
The only other drivers points co-leader at work, Kimi Raikkonen, was third quick, rolling his Ferrari F2008 to a 1:15.296 in 90 laps. "I am reasonably satisfied with the way things went during these two days of testing," Raikkonen said. "We mainly tried to find settings for the car which will allow us to be in good shape for the grand prix. I think we will also be competitive on this track, as indeed we have been for the year so far. Speed isn't lacking, but sometimes we haven't managed to put together all the elements and have succeeded in exploiting all the potential at our disposal."
Raikkonen, who has yet to win in Germany, hands off to Ferrari teammate and third co-leader in driver points, Felipe Massa, on Thursday to go to Brussels for the European Youth Conference on road Safety at the European Commission.
Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Toro Rosso brought out both drivers and gave each a half-day's work. David Coulthard put Red Bull's RB4 fourth on time charts while testing dry tire compounds. His best lap in 42 was 1:15.767. His teammate Mark Webber took longer runs in the afternoon to test mechanical developments and aero bits, and to compare tires. Webber set a 1:16.217 in 63 laps. "It was a productive day, which produced some unexpected and interesting results," Webber said.
Toro Rosso runners Sebastian Vettel and Sebastien Bourdais also split time in the STR3-02. Bourdais took the morning shift to work on setup, balance and tire comparison. His tire work was cut short after he went off-track and the car needed garage time. Bourdais's best time in 36 laps was 1:16.550. Vettel used the afternoon on the same objectives and rolled to a sixth-best 1:15.955 in 56 laps. He returns for the full day Thursday.
Adrian Sutil of Force India was fifth-quickest, working alone for 97 laps, setting a time barely a second off Hamilton's quick lap, a 1:15.945. In addition to race setup and tire comparisons, Sutil tested the VJM01's suspension settings. A minor technical problem held the German from completing 100 laps or more.
"It was a good day, and we were able to test several items," Sutil said. "In the morning, we had an issue with the engine and lost some time, and again the windy conditions made things difficult, but in the afternoon the balance came back. It was getting better and better, and we could do some good lap times, so I was quite happy. At the end of the day we also tried a different evolution of suspension setup, so we're getting some good experience with the new parts. We can still improve a lot, there is more potential in the car, so overall it looks quite positive for the race weekend."
Timo Glock in Toyota's TF108 led the second half of the time list. The German prepared for his home grand prix by running 107 laps and setting a quick lap of 1:15.995. He was followed by Renault's Fernando Alonso, who won the German Grand Prix at Hockenheimring in 2005. Alonso, enjoying good balance in the R28, completed 106 laps and worked on chassis settings, suspension setup, and aero testing. He posted a 1:16.141 as his best, shading Honda's Rubens Barrichello by .003 seconds. Barrichello ran 83 laps.
"It's been a good day and we completed a lot of laps, which has given us some useful information for the race next week," Alonso said. "The track conditions were good, it remained dry and because it was cloudy, we had a constant track temperature, which is always useful for testing. So we have made some progress with the car, but there is still more work to do tomorrow."
BMW Sauber's Nick Heidfeld was another workhorse setting up for his home grand prix. He completed 115 laps with a best of 1:16.235 in the F1.08-06. He concentrated on tire testing, collecting data on the two compounds Bridgestone will provide for the race.