Testing continued at Jerez on December 5th and Lewis Hamilton made his mark on his return to the McLaren cockpit with the best time of the 20 drivers present, 1:19.371. His day focused on aerodynamic tests with no driver aids while team test driver Pedro de la Rosa, fifth fastest, continued with a chassis programme and 2009 spec slick tyres.
"It was the first time I have driven the car without driver aids and it was good fun," Hamilton said. "It does feel quite different and of course there is some adapting to do in driving style, but in GP2 we didn't have driver aids, so I have some recent experience of it. We also did some work on aero and chassis developments for next year's car, it was a productive day and we will continue in the same way tomorrow."
Second on the time sheet was Red Bull's David Coulthard, less than a tenth down on Hamilton. He worked on aerodynamics and chassis set up, while teammate Mark Webber tried out 2008 electronics. It was a difficult day for Webber, who experienced a couple of problems that lost him time and he was 15th fastest overall.
Ferrari had both its race drivers at work, Felipe Massa third fastest and Kimi Raikkonen fourth. There was about two hundredths of a second between the two scarlet cars as the pair worked on developing new components. Renault tester Nelson A. Piquet was sixth on the list and focused mainly on slick tyres.
"It was frustrating to lose track time this morning, but the team did a great job to get the car ready again, and we got back on track before lunch and began the programme," said Piquet, who had an early spin and also experienced unspecified delays. "I think we did a good job today, and the team managed to collect some important data."
Christian Klien was back in the Force India cockpit and was a respectable seventh fastest, while Giancarlo Fisichella had his second day with the team and was ninth. Set up and tyres were their programme for the day; Klien was faster on slicks and Fisichella had a slight advantage on grooves. Tonio Liuzzi and Ralf Schumacher take their turn on Thursday.
"We made some big set up changes that took a bit of time, but I still managed to do 86 laps and had some good experience on the slick tyres," said Klien. "We did a couple of laps on those, which went quite well, and overall I think the whole day was quite productive. We did quite a few changes and I just got more used to it and to the team and, all in all, I am very happy and think it was a positive test."
Sebastian Vettel led the way for Toro Rosso, eighth, and teammate Sebastien Bourdais was 12th. Electronics and brakes were their focus. Robert Kubica rounded off the top 10 for BMW Sauber and Nick Heidfeld, who was fastest on day one, was at the opposite end of the time sheet in 20th. Mechanical and aerodynamic set up was their work as well as tyres and 2008 electronics.
Timo Glock and test driver Kamui Kobayashi continued for Toyota and were 11th and 19th respectively while working on development parts. "It was quite a smooth day without any big problems and I was able to complete my programme of long runs," said Kobayashi. "This week was my first Formula One test for a long time so it was a good experience and I think it went well."
Williams had two Nicos on track, Rosberg 13th fastest and Hulkenberg 16th. "We've had a productive session, which saw the pair steadily work through the programme with no major problems," said test team manager Dickie Stanford. "Hulkenberg has done a good job over the past two days and given us some useful feedback. Kazuki will return to the cockpit tomorrow to join Nico Rosberg for the remaining two days of testing."
Austrian GP2 driver Andreas Zuber and Rubens Barrichello were behind the wheel for Honda, 14th and 18th respectively. Barrichello continued with development of 2008 electronic systems that Jenson Button started on the first day, while Zuber got used to the car and carried out long runs in the afternoon. Luca Filippi will have another try out on Thursday.