Day two of pre-season testing in Barcelona as it happened

Romain Grosjean is quickest on day two of pre-season testing in Barcelona

2 March 2012 Last updated at 17:09

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As it happened

  1. 1700: 

    For those of you who arrived late and are keen to find out what happened today, I'd suggest casting your eye over all 7,000-odd words of this commentary. Failing that, why not take a look at Andrew Benson's report which will be up on bbc.co.uk/f1 shortly. I'm back again on Saturday at 0745 GMT to do it all over again. Thanks, as always, for all your contributions. I've had a blast.

  2. 1650: 

    Mark Webber will be back in the Red Bull tomorrow with Jenson Button,Felipe Massa and Nico Rosberg being called back into action. Kimi Raikkonen, Paul di Resta, Sergio Perez, Daniel Ricciardo and Vitaly Petrov will be in their respective cars, too while Pastor Maldonado and Bruno Senna will share the duties again.

  3.   
    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson

    "Romain Grosjean takes fastest time late in day - Lotus looks decent but there'll be a few cynics muttering "glory run" after that, you can be sure."

  4. 1640: 

    So this is how they finished:

    Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:22.614 seconds 124 laps

    Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:23.126 31

    Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:23.36185 85

    Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:23.447 125

    Heikki Kovalainen Caterham 1:23.828 104

    Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1:23.836 77

    Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:23.893 33

    Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1:23.978 79

    Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1:24.111 65

    Bruno Senna Williams 1:24.925 48

    Pastor Maldonado Williams 1:25.801 20

  5. 1631: 

    Fast fact: Romain Grosjean is the only man in pre-season testing so far to have topped the times twice.

  6. 1630: 
    CHEQUERED FLAG

    LOTUS DRIVER ROMAIN GROSJEAN POSTS THE QUICKEST TIME ON THE SECOND DAY OF THE FINAL PRE-SEASON TEST IN BARCELONA.

  7. 1628: 

    Just when it looked like Jean-Eric Vergne would finish as top dog, Romain Grosjean only goes and steals the limelight right at the death for the second day in a row. The Franco-Swiss clocks a 1:22.614 on soft tyres, 0.512 seconds quicker than Vergne.

  8.  

    From Jon Morgan on Twitter: "I know times are hard to gauge in test but all teams look close. Really looking forward to the season start."

  9. 1625: 

    Today's pacesetter Jean-Eric Vergne is back out for the first time since he stopped the car on track just before 1200 GMT. The Frenchman has been forced to watch the action from the garage and, perhaps more frustratingly, missed out on the opportunity to do a race simulation - something he won't be able do before the first race of the season as he is handing over the reins to team-mate Daniel Ricciardo for the final two days. Instead, he is making do with some practice pit stops to keep the Toro Rosso team on their toes.

  10. 1615: 

    Fernando Alonso completes the 57 lap of his race simulation and then promptly dives into the pits. After one stint on the mediums, he bolted on the softs for the next two, before switching back to the mediums for stints four and five.

  11.  

    Good news Sauber fans. The team have managed to fix a hydraulic leak in under an hour so Kamui Kobayashi will get some vital running before the end of the day. "We made it, #C31 and #Kamui are ready to go out again. To fix the hydraulic leak, the gear box had to be removed and flanged again," said the team on Twitter.

  12. 1607: 

    We're hearing the reason Lewis Hamilton has barely completed any running this afternoon is because the team have been carrying out some planned modifications to the car that took longer than others might. We'll just have to wait to see if they work. Anyhow, the McLaren driver is out and about, focusing on short runs on the soft tyres. He's just completed a run which saw him start off in the 1m25s before drifting into the 1m28s.

  13. 1600: 

    Here is how they stand with 30 minutes left of the session, which has been extended by 30 minutes as a result of the fog this morning which delayed the start of running:

    Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:23.126 31 laps

    Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:23.361 75

    Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:23.447 113

    Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:23.528 114

    Heikki Kovalainen Caterham 1:23.828 103

    Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1:23.836 62

    Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:23.893 33

    Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1:23.978 69

    Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1:24.111 59

    Bruno Senna* Williams 1:24.925 43

    Pastor Maldonado* Williams 1:25.801 20

    *Bruno Senna and Pastor Maldonado are sharing the testing duties today.

  14. 1555: 

    Fernando Alonso's race simulation continues with the Spaniard pitting to switch his mediums for a fresh set before heading straight back out. Romain Grosjean, meanwhile, has finished his race simulation which comprised of 45 laps. He did three stints on the softs and finished with a 25 lap stint on the hard tyres.

  15. 1547: 

    We've seen precious little of Lewis Hamilton this afternoon, with the McLaren driver completing just seven laps since the break. However, the 2008 world champion is back behind the wheel and out on track with the soft tyres. I'll let you how he gets on.

  16. 1542: 

    Red Bull are trying out a new exhaust today. Our spies tell us that it looks like this one exits the bodywork lower than the previous one while still, of course, remaining within the area of the "box" stipulated by new rules on top of the rear sidepods.

  17. 1536: 

    Romain Grosjean is the first man to reach his century as his continues to put the miles on his shiny black and gold Lotus. The Franco-Swiss is fourth overall, 0.402 seconds behind the pacesetter Jean-Eric Vergne who has not been seen since he came to a stop out on track this morning.

  18. 1526: 

    Fernando Alonso is struggling for pace on the soft tyres during his race simulation, so the Spaniard pits for a new pair of boots - this time they're of the medium variety. Elsewhere, Michael Schumacher heads out with soft tyres and improves his personal best to 1:23.978 - but remains eighth fastest.

  19. 1519: 

    Our people on the ground in Barcelona tell me that while the Force India crew was working on his car, a smiling Nico Hulkenberg was behind the garages having an impromptu meeting with the fans who have paddock passes. He chatted with them, signed autographs and had photos taken with them before disappearing into the team's transporter.

  20. 1513: 

    While Bruno Senna and his Williams team run over more practice pit stops, Romain Grosjean continues to clock up the laps on his race simulation. The Franco-Swiss is on his fourth stint now, ditching the softs for the hards.

  21. 1505: 

    Here is how they stand with a little under 90 minutes left of the session:

    Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:23.126 31 laps

    Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:23.361 62

    Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:23.447 79

    Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:23.528 87

    Heikki Kovalainen Caterham 1:23.828 89

    Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1:23.836 62

    Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:23.893 33

    Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1:24.663 50

    Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1:24.111 44

    Bruno Senna* Williams 1:25.111 30

    Pastor Maldonado* Williams 1:25.801 20

    *Bruno Senna and Pastor Maldonado are sharing the testing duties today.

  22.  

    Sauber on Twitter: "#C31 is back in the garage and will stay there for a while as we have to fix an hydraulic leak."

  23. 1459: 

    If you were wondering why Kamui Kobayashi hasn't been mentioned for a while, we have news from Sauber...

  24. 1455: 

    Talking of Fernando Alonso, the Spaniard pits for tyres, trading the mediums for the softs, before heading back out again. Meanwhile, Romain Grosjean has just clocked up the 25th lap of his long run race simulation and is running the soft tyres.

  25.   
    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson

    "Fernando Alonso appears to be doing a race-distance run in the Ferrari. This will be watched with great interest up and down the paddock as it is the first time Ferrari have done any kind of long run this winter. How will the car fare? It may well provide some answers as to whether they really are in as much trouble as some think, or whether in fact the car may be difficult to drive but is still fast."

  26.  

    From Paul Taylor on Twitter: "Re Paul Godley. For me, it has to be Paul Di Resta, outclassed his team mate at nearly every race."

  27.   
    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson

    "It may only be testing, but the team garages are as spotless as on race weekends. After Lewis Hamilton laid down strips of rubber on the painted floor as he pulled out of the garage, the McLaren mechanics were down on their hands and knees with cleaner and towels, scrubbing off the black marks."

  28. 1440: 

    Michael Schumacher ends an eight lap run, lapping in the 1m25 to 1m26 bracket. Elsewhere, Sebastian Vettel pops up into second with a 1:23.361 on the medium tyre. That's 0.235 seconds off Vergne's leading lap which was set on the soft tyre.

  29.  
    BBC F1 technical analyst Gary Anderson

    "Chatting to the teams over lunch today, it seems there is not as much performance difference between the tyres as you might imagine. First of all, they're struggling to get the 'super-softs' to last one lap of the abrasive Circuit de Catalunya. That means they are only about 0.2secs a lap quicker than the 'softs'. The soft is about 0.3-0.4secs quicker than the 'medium', and there is hardly any difference at all between the mediums and the 'hards' - although the hards hang on a bit longer."

  30. 1428: 

    Michael Schumacher edges closer to the 1m23s with a 1:24.061 to go sixth fastest on the soft tyres. Meanwhile, Heikki Kovalainen brings his latest long run to an end. The Finn managed 18 laps on the hard tyres, lapping in the 1m30s to start with and tailing off to 1m32s by the end of the run.

  31.   
    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson

    "Romain Grosjean is doing a race distance in the Lotus. He flagged this up on Thursday, saying they would spend the morning evaluating some test items but that in the afternoon they would do a race distance. 'We need to see the tyre deg(radation) and know how the car is handling in the long runs.' So far, Grosjean has been happy with the Lotus. 'You can trust the car,' he said, 'you can push it to the limit, and if you push it to the limit a little bit too much, you know what's going on next. This is really good when you are driving a car.'"

  32.  

    From Paul Godley on Twitter: "Which rookie from last season do people think has the potential to impress and progress this season. For me it's Sergio Perez."

  33. 1411: 

    Kamui Kobayashi is cranking up the pace of his Sauber. The Japanese driver clocks 1:23.836 on the soft tyres to go sixth, 0.710 seconds behind Jean-Eric Vergne's leading time.

  34.  
    BBC F1 technical analyst Gary Anderson

    "Force India had planned to do a race simulation run with Nico Hulkenberg this afternoon, but he suffered a gearbox problem on his first lap. The car isn't back in the pits yet so they don't know whether it's a big problem or a small one, or whether they'll have to change the gearbox. But the engine was quite high mileage so if they have to change the 'box, they'll probably change the engine as well."

  35. 1407: 

    I have news on Nico Hulkenberg after the Force India driver stopped out on track to bring out the first red flag of the afternoon session...

  36. 1405: 

    With one hour gone and two-and-a-half hours remaining, here's how they stand:

    Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:23.126 31 laps

    Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:23.447 45

    Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:23.528 46

    Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:23.536 43

    Heikki Kovalainen Caterham 1:23.828 56

    Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:23.893 33

    Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1:24.111 30

    Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1:24.382 45

    Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1:24.663 40

    Bruno Senna* Williams 1:25.111 8

    Pastor Maldonado* Williams 1:25.801 20

    *Bruno Senna and Pastor Maldonado are sharing the testing duties today.

  37.  

    From Mike in Warwick: "Re 1340. Jenson Button has to be the most deserving world champion. He had so much potential but never had a car to show it. I would say Rubens Barrichello was a great driver who always had to play second fiddle in any championship. Would have been a worthy champion."

    From David Chubb: "For me the greatest world champion of all time has to be either Jackie Stewart or Niki Lauda because they did more for the sport as well as just drive well."

  38. 1400: 

    Sebastian Vettel flies out of the pits on the medium compound tyre while Roman Grosjean tries the hard tyres on for size. The Red Bull driver is lapping in the 1m27s, around four seconds off the pace set by Jean-Eric Vergne.

  39. 1355: 

    Here's the first sighting of Bruno Senna. The Brazilian clocks 1:25.111 to go 10th fastest, nearly seven tenths quicker than team-mate Pastor Maldonado managed this morning.

  40.   
    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson

    "Unlike at grand prix weekends, when teams have to finish work by a certain time, there are no curfews in testing. So it is a hard slog for the mechanics, who have lots of work to do fitting the latest parts to the cars. Caterham actually have two shifts of mechanics in Barcelona. The 'night' shift" worked until 0530 on Friday, converting the CT01's settings from those used by Vitaly Petrov on Thursday to Heikki Kovalainen's for Friday, and installing new upgrades. They are sleeping at the hotel now and will return to work this evening."

  41. 1348: 

    Kamui Kobayashi is the first man to make an improvement this afternoon as the Sauber driver clock 1:24.382 to move up to eighth fastest overall. Heikki Kovalainen dives into the pits after a 16-lap run - the longest of the day - just as Michael Schumacher heads out.

  42.  

    From Declan Hackett on Twitter: "Re 1340. Best champion has to be Fangio. Winning a championship in a four-year-old car with a quarter of the races left aged 46? Unbelieveable."

    From Ian Stickland on Twitter: "Re Michael in Leicester. And for two seasons Senna and Prost were in equal cars. Schu would never have raced his main rival in the same car."

  43. 1340: 

    Thanks for all your contributions so far today. You've been marvellous. There's clearly a lot of support for Ayrton Senna while it's a battle between Stirling Moss and Gilles Villeneuve for the title of best driver to have never won a world title. Keep your thoughts on that coming, along with anything else you fancy getting off your chest - F1-related, of course. Tweet me @lawrobarretto using the #bbcf1 hashtag or fire over a text message to 81111 (UK), remembering to include your name.

  44. 1335: 

    Michael Schumacher's had enough of this run and pulls into the pits after six laps. The Mercedes hovered between the high 1m26s and low 1m28s on that hard tyre run. Heikki Kovalainen's got more staying power, though, with Caterham continuing to pound round the sunny Spanish track.

  45.   
    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson

    "Although Ferrari say they are still in the process of trying to fully understand their complex new car, they are also looking at new parts in preparation for the first race. Fernando Alonso is on Friday running a new front wing that arrived at the track too late to be tried by Felipe Massa on Thursday."

  46. 1330: 

    Romain Grosjean doesn't waste any time putting the hammer down. The Frenchman fires down a high 1m23, just 0.2 seconds off his best, before dashing back to the pits. Kamui Kobayashi joins him to leave Heikki Kovalainen and Michael Schumacher alone on the track.

  47. 1325: 

    Heikki Kovalainen on the hards, Romain Grosjean on the softs and Michael Schumacher on the hards head out in quick succession with Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi on the mediums not too far behind.

  48. 1319: 
    GREEN FLAG

    The marshals have done another good job clearing the Force India off the track quickly and we're good to go again at the Circuit de Catalunya. With teams planning longer runs this afternoon, stoppages like this will be less than helpful.

  49. 1309: 

    This time it's Nico Hulkenberg in the Force India. That's red flag number eight of the day.

  50. 1307: 
    RED FLAG

    Here we go again.

  51. 1305: 

    Heikki Kovalainen, Michael Schumacher, Romain Grosjean and Nico Hulkenberg are the first four to head out.

  52. 1300: 
    GREEN FLAG

    The green flags are waving and the track is open. Let's get this afternoon session off to a flying start.

  53. 1255: 

    Second bit of business is that Bruno Senna is stepping into the Williams for the afternoon session in place of Pastor Maldonado.

  54.  

    Caterham driver Heikki Kovalainen, who missed yesterday's running with food poisoning, on Twitter: "Feeling better today, lost 3kg in a day tho, engineers happy but piling it back up now when appetite is back!"

  55. 1245: 

    I'm back, fully fuelled, and raring to go. First bit of business is that the session will be extended until 1630 GMT, presumably to make up for the loss of running this morning when it was mighty foggy.

  56. 1215: 

    On that note, I'm off to refuel with a tuna-filled jacket potato and a tub of blueberries. The session resumes at 1300 GMT so see you then.

  57. 1210: 

    Fernando Alonso's presence in the Ferrari on Friday has drawn the crowds, as usual. As the lunch break approached, Fernando Alonso fans were gathering to get a glimpse of their hero. There were a large number of people gathered level with the Ferrari trucks on the walkway above the paddock, from which you can see the drivers come out of the pits and head towards trucks and motorhomes. Those with paddock passes were massing next to the Ferrari hospitality area to see Alonso as he made the short walk from the garage to the hospitality entrance. There were about 50 people shouting his name and taking photos as he made the quick dash from the trucks to the door of the hospitality area. On Thursday, when Felipe Massa was driving the Ferrari, there were no fans hanging out in this area other than two or three waiting to snag an autograph from Ferrari test driver Marc Gene.

  58.   
    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson

    "The HRT team is still working flat-out building its car in Germany with the hope of getting it to Barcelona in time to run on Sunday. A spokeswoman told BBC Sport that the team has set itself a deadline of this afternoon/evening to make the decision as to whether they can get the car ready to be trucked to Spain - a journey of nearly 1,000 miles."

  59.  

    From Peter Wright on Twitter: "Re 0855. Most deserving WDC has to be Mansell. Three near misses, more wins than any other UK driver - 1992 was a fitting reward."

    From Simon Buckett on Twitter: "One of greatest champions is Jackie Stewart. He used to tape a spanner to steering wheel + had a 2 in 3 chance of dying. Brave man!"

    From Ben Irving on Twitter: "Greatest champ is Mika Hakkinen. Only driver to recover from life-threatening head injuries and drive with maximum attack!"

  60.  

    Mercedes on Twitter: "A stop-start morning in Barcelona with early fog and red flags means only 19 laps for Michael. Looking forward to a better afternoon!"

  61. 1200: 

    So as the teams head into their plush motorhomes to refuel, here's a rundown of the fastest times from the morning session.

    Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:23.126 31 laps

    Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:23.447 35

    Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:23.528 34

    Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:23.53638

    Heikki Kovalainen Caterham 1:23.828 34

    Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:23.893 33

    Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1:24.111 30

    Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1:24.663 19

    Pastor Maldonado Williams 1:25.801 20

    Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1:26.111 35

  62.  
    BBC F1 technical analyst Gary Anderson

    "I've been watching the cars out on the track this morning, down at the chicane at Turns seven and eight. The Ferrari looks particularly difficult to drive - Fernando Alonso has caught a couple of lurid slides when he lost rear-end grip. He's trying to drive the car he wants to have rather than the car he has. Felipe Massa was also struggling yesterday, but the way he drives the car looks nervous. Alonso just makes it slide. The Red Bull looks neat and tidy, although it does build up a bit of understeer. The Ferrari looks like it has very 'peaky' grip whereas the Red Bull looks more comfortable to drive. I suspect if the drivers were to really have a go, the pace of the two cars would be close, but you'd be less likely to make a mistake in the Red Bull. Lewis Hamilton has not done many laps - and when he has been out the McLaren has looked heavy with fuel."

  63. 1152: 

    Sebastian Vettel is the culprit and that brings an early end to the morning session.

  64. 1151: 
    RED FLAG

    They shouldn't have bothered because the sessions has been stopped. Again. That's red flag number seven I think.

  65. 1149: 
    GREEN FLAG

    Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso, Michael Schumacher and Pastor Maldonado head out for the final 10 minutes before lunch.

  66. 1145: 

    And here's the video in question...

  67.   
    BBC Sport's F1 pit-lane reporter Lee McKenzie

    "I have been interviewing Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg this morning. He's in good spirits, and was talking about the progress the team have made with their car this year. He's attending Friday's running as a spectator, as Michael Schumacher is in the car. Nico is staying at the track in his own motorhome as it's better to stay close to the team and spend more time with the engineers into the evenings. He was in a good mood, but wasn't up for standing around chatting - he ran off with the microphone still attached, and I had to chase after him to retrieve it. The interview should be up on the website later on Friday."

  68. 1142: 

    While we wait for the session to get going again, here's a little snippet from our intrepid pit-lane reporter Lee McKenzie who is out and about in the Barcelona paddock...

  69. 1140: 

    Jean-Eric Vergne, who was on his way to set the fastest time of the day on those super-soft tyres, is the culprit. The marshals are onto it in a flash and the Toro Rosso is soon on its way back to the garage on the back of a trailer.

  70. 1139: 
    RED FLAG

    It's our sixth stoppage of the day, and no, it's not Michael Schumacher.

  71. 1138: 

    Mercedes have worked their magic and Michael Schumacher is back out on track. The seven-time world champion is bang on it from the off and sets his best sector one time of the day. The team report: "No damage to the car after his trip over the gravel."

  72. 1136: 

    Lewis Hamilton is back out on track and is steadily making improvements, however, he remains seventh fastest overall, 1.111 seconds slower than Vergne's time. Talking of Vergne, the Frenchman has offloaded the softs and traded them for a set of super-softs. Prepare yourselves for an even quicker time...

  73. 1130: 

    We have a new man at the top as Jean-Eric Vergne clocks 1:23.126 on the soft tyres. That's 0.321 seconds quicker than Fernando Alonso who set his time on the harder tyre which is two grades harder than the softs and therefore approximately 1.2 seconds a lap slower.

  74.  

    From Mark in Bradford: "I wouldn't say he was best, but Nick Heidfeld deserved to be in a top team after his stint at BMW, I mean he had numerous podiums, but never the top step, because BMW didn't, I believe, give him the right car. If he went to Mclaren, it would have been awesome."

    From Michael in Leicester: "No doubt Ayrton Senna is up there but it does seem to be forgotten that in every year he won the title he had comfortably the best car, yet this is a "criticism" that is levelled at others, especially Michael Schumacher in his Ferrari years. For me, Schumacher in his prime had literally everything."

  75. 1124: 

    Kamui Kobayashi has clocked the most laps so far today with 35 while Michael Schumacher (15), who ended up in the gravel earlier this morning and Pastor Maldonado (14) have the fewest.

  76. 1119: 

    Sebastian Vettel is on the move, rising to third fastest with a 1:23.536 on the hard compound tyre. That leaves him 0.089 seconds off the pace set by Fernando Alonso earlier this morning.

  77. 1111: 

    Nico Hulkenberg sets a personal best of 1:23.993 to leap up to fourth in the standings while Kamui Kobayashi improves, too, with a 1:26.111 - but the Sauber driver stays rooted to the bottom of the timesheets.

  78.  

    From Jon Hayworth in Helston: "Can anyone explain why Kimi Raikkonen is not in the Lotus?"

    Drivers share the driving duties. The top teams, like Ferrari, Red Bull and McLaren, are alternating their drivers in Barcelona but Lotus have decided to give Romain Grosjean the first two days and Kimi Raikkonen the final two days.

  79.  

    From Euan Taylor on Twitter: "Re 0855. Stirling Moss has to be the greatest driver never to win the championship closely followed by Gilles Villeneuve."

    From James Willson on Twitter: "Most deserving world champion for me has to be Ayrton Senna - the skill he had behind the wheel was just outstanding."

    From Bob Smith on Twitter: "Alain Prost or Ayrton Senna best in my lifetime. Before Juan Manuel Fangio, Jim Clark or Jackie Stewart. Best not to win would have to be Stirling Moss."

  80. 1105: 

    Back at the track, Pastor Maldonado has finally set a lap time. A time of 1:25.801 puts him eighth overall ahead of Heikki Kovalainen and Kamui Kobayashi.

  81. 1100: 

    Away from the track, Williams have announced that Frank Williams will step down from the team's board of directors at the end of the month. The team's legendary founder, who turns 70 next month, will still be the majority shareholder in Williams Grand Prix Holdings PLC.

  82.   
    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson

    "Interestingly, Red Bull's Mark Webber average lap was less than 0.2secs quicker Ferrari's Felipe Massa - and that's despite the Brazilian's runs generally being longer, especially in the morning. The Ferrari might look a handful on the track, but as we've said before, it doesn't look that slow on that basis. Mercedes' Nico Rosberg's average was another half a second back from Webber and Massa, but he not only did more laps, but also tended towards even longer runs."

  83.   
    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson

    "Average lap times for the day can be useful, as they iron out some of the differences in tyres and fuel loads for individual runs. Jenson Button had the best all-day average lap time by more than a second, but he focused mainly on shorter five-lap runs and did about half as many laps as the other big teams, so that figure is distorted even more than usual."

  84.   
    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson

    "I've been having a look through the lap times from the first day of the test to see if any patterns emerge. What follows comes with the usual proviso that we don't know the fuel loads the cars are on, or exactly what the teams are up to."

  85. 1048: 

    Sebastian Vettel, who was back on home soil in Germany to pick up the country's highest honour for sporting achievement - the Silver Laurel Leaf - last Friday, pumps in a 1:24.015 to go fourth fastest, 0.568 seconds off the pace set by Fernando Alonso.

  86. 1041: 

    Jean-Eric Vergne improves to 1:23.922 and stays third while Heikki Kovalainen goes faster, too with a 1:26.274 for the seventh fastest time of the day. Sebastian Vettel is out there, too and starting to ramp up the pace in his Red Bull. More on his times shortly.

  87. 1036: 

    If anyone is wondering why there are only 10 teams present in Barcelona, it's because HRT and Marussia are facing a race against time to get their cars fit to race in Melbourne on 18 March. HRT failed a couple of mandatory crash tests but have now been given the all clear. The Spanish team are hoping to be in Barcelona for the final day of testing on Sunday. Marussia, meanwhile, still need to pass the last of 18 crash tests and have therefore given up hope of attending this test session.

  88. 1029: 
    GREEN FLAG

    The trackside marshals have done another super job of mopping up Michael Schumacher's Mercedes so the session can get back under way. Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel and Kamui Kobayashi waste no time and as they race out onto the track to make up for lost time.

  89. 1020: 
    RED FLAG

    Schumacher fans, I have bad news. Your man has just brought out his second red flag inside 20 minutes. This time, the German has ended up in the gravel. It'll be like groundhog day for the marshals, and indeed the Mercedes mechanics who probably didn't expect to be so busy this morning.

  90.   
    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson

    "Force India have turned a few heads with their car this year - it looks comfortably the best of the midfield runners, although it has been difficult to judge its outright pace because of the programmes they have been running. Nico Hulkenberg has taken over from Paul di Resta this morning and he is running aerodynamic tests and set-up work. This afternoon the team are planning qualifying rehearsals - but not, they emphasise, to set an eye-catching lap time, just to practice what they will do over a race weekend. After that, they will do a race simulation - which will be watched with interest for a sense of the car's pace. The team have some new aerodynamic parts arriving later on Friday for evaluation over the weekend."

  91.  

    From Sarah in Scotland: "Ayrton Senna was definitely the ultimate champion, a true racer. Given how close Hill got to Schumi in a Williams in '94, it's poignant to think how Senna would have done in the same car had he lived. He could conceivably gone on to win more world titles."

    From Mike Gerrard in Wilmslow: "Only three in the running for me - Fangio, Clark and Senna. Three drivers who were head and shoulders above their peers and what peers they were - Moss, Ascari, Stewart, Prost, etc. But on top of that, a Formula 1 world champion is about presence and charisma. I put Senna at the top, he had it all. But I am not going to argue against either of Fangio or Clark. Magic times."

    From Henry in Canterbury: "I wouldn't say he was the greatest, but I feel for Massa after the way he lost to Lewis in 2008. Most deserving? Has to be Button surely? Best driver to watch!"

  92. 1013: 

    Some speedy work by the Mercedes team means that it's only a few minutes before Schumacher is back out on track.

  93. 1007: 
    GREEN FLAG

    The Mercedes has been cleared and we're good to go.

  94. 1000: 

    So after two hours, here's how they stand:

    Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:23.447 18 laps

    Romain Grosjean Lotus 1:23.528 15

    Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1:24.260 16

    Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1:24.663 18

    Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1:24.709 13

    Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:24.995 15

    Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1:26.340 18

    Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1:27.155 20

    Heikki Kovalainen Caterham 1:28.657 10

  95. 0958: 
    RED FLAG

    Marshals are scurrying out onto the track to pick up debris on the track at Turn 2.

  96. 0955: 

    Jean-Eric Vergne, who will make his F1 racing debut in Australia on 18 March, clocks 1:24.260 to go third, while Lewis Hamilton does a less spectacular 1:27.594.

  97.  

    From Jon Morgan on Twitter: "Re 0855. Best driver to be champ would be Alain Prost for me and obviously Stirling Moss for greatest not to win."

  98. 0948: 

    Romain Grosjean with a 1:23.528 to close to within 0.081 seconds of Fernando Alonso's time. Sebastian Vettel, meanwhile, is keeping the Red Bull pit crew on their toes with a series of practice pit stops.

  99. 0942: 

    Fernando Alonso puts the Ferrari through its paces, extracting his best lap of the day - a 1:23.447 - to go fastest of all and just 0.2 slower than Romain Grosjean managed yesterday in his Lotus.

  100. 0940: 

    Nico Hulkenberg, who was promoted from reserve to race driver in place of Adrian Sutil for this season, is busy getting acquainted with the 2012 Force India. The German does a 1:25.882 to go fourth on the hard tyres, and then improves on the next lap with a 1:25.506 to go third.

  101. 0933: 
    GREEN FLAG

    And we're back under way. Kamui Kobayashi is the first man out in his medium-tyre shod Sauber.

  102. 0930: 

    While the marshals lift the stricken Mercedes onto a truck, it looks like the European Grand Prix in Valencia is in doubt this year, according to Spanish newspaper El Pais, because the organisers have not yet paid the race fee. It had nothing to do with our discussion yesterday, obviously.

  103. 0925: 
    RED FLAG

    Oh dear. Just as we report that the new Mercedes have been very reliable, Michael Schumacher stops out on track at Turn 7.

  104.   
    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson

    "There is an air of satisfaction at Mercedes at the moment. After taking a risk in delaying the debut of their new car so they could spend more time designing it, the W03 looks like a step forward after two disappointing years, and is also running reliably. Nico Rosberg was playing his cards close to his chest, as ever, on Thursday but he did admit that 'progress as a team is good'. He added: 'The team is working better than last year, they have built a better car than last year, everything has gone more to plan. You can see that it is very obvious that we are moving forward.'"

  105. 0920: 

    A air of calm desends over the Circuit de Catalunya before Michael Schumacher destroys the silence when he roars onto the track. The seven-time world champion does a 1:25.520 on the soft tyres to go third fastest.

  106.   
    BBC Sport's F1 pit-lane reporter Lee McKenzie in Barcelona

    "Plenty of pit stop practice for Lewis Hamilton and McLaren. Problem on front right that time means LH nearly leaves with gun still on!"

  107. 0915: 

    The Spaniard, on the soft tyre, improves to a 1:23.990s to extend his lead at the top, only for yesterday's pacesetter Romain Grosjean to topple him almost instantly with a 1:23.782 - and the Franco-Swiss was on the hard tyre, too.

  108. 0910: 

    Fernando Alonso bolts on some soft tyres and promptly goes fastest of all with a 1:25.324 - that'll go down well with the fans in the grandstands.

  109.  

    From Mark Walton on Twitter: "Re 0855. Senna for me - the complete champion beat Prost/ Mansell/ Piquet whereas Schumi beat Hakkinen & poor field + unbreakable car."

  110.  

    From James Ridley on Twitter: "McLaren looking good so far, but i can't help but feel Red Bull haven't even got out of first gear yet and will still be miles ahead."

  111. 0905: 

    Lewis Hamilton has just clocked a time of 2:22.013, over 50 seconds slower than Heikki Kovalainen's time. Not sure what the McLaren driver is playing at there...

  112. 0903: 

    And just as I hit send on that entry, Heikki Kovalainen crosses the line to clock a 1:32.074, around seven seconds slower than the best team-mate Vitaly Petrov managed yesterday. It's early days, mind.

  113. 0900: 
    GREEN FLAG

    And we're good to go again. Normally at this point, an hour into the session, I'd give you an update of the latest times. But no one has set a flying lap yet, so I can't.

  114. 0856: 
    RED FLAG

    No, it's not because of the lingering fog. Pastor Maldonado has decided to park his Williams up just after Turn 5.

  115. 0855: 

    As the fog is keeping track action to a minimum, in the words of Bonnie Tyler, I need you more than ever. We had plenty of chat about which circuits you'd like to ditch and which you'd like to see return yesterday. I think it's fair to say Valencia wasn't popular, but a return to South Africa was. Today, with four world champions in action, I want to know who you think is the most impressive, and deserving, world champion of all time. And who was the greatest driver never to win a world title? Get involved by tweeting me @lawrobarretto using the #bbcf1 hashtag or fire over a text message to 81111 (UK), remembering to include your name.

  116.   
    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson

    "Lotus driver Romain Grosjean was the centre of attention after the first day of the test - he returned to the motorhome after pipping Jenson Button to fastest time to be greeted by about 40 journalists. There can't have been many times that has happened before for the man who spent an unconvincing half season as Fernando Alonso's team-mate at Renault in 2009 before being jettisoned. The time was set on soft tyres when the track was not ideal - so the strong suspicion is that it was what is known as a 'glory run' aimed at boosting confidence after they were forced to pull out of the second test with chassis problems. Still, Grosjean reported that the car felt as driveable as it had when it impressed in the first test, despite the modifications, which add 1kg to the chassis weight."

  117. 0845: 

    Jean-Eric Vergne, Romain Grosjean, Pastor Maldonado, Nico Hulkenberg, Michael Schumacher and last but by no means least Lewis Hamilton have also popped out for their installation laps which means we've now seen everybody in action.

  118. 0840: 

    The conditions are still far from perfect, so the drivers are restricted to slow installation laps for now. They would normally do a few of these anyway to carry out system checks before putting the hammer down and getting on with business.

  119. 0835: 

    Sebastian Vettel is out on track, too, along with Heikki Kovalainen who is back in the car after food poisoning forced him to miss yesterday's running.

  120. 0830: 

    First out of the blocks is Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi, closely followed by local favourite Fernando Alonso in his shiny red Ferrari.

  121. 0825: 

    The fog has finally lifted allowing the sun to break through. That can only mean one thing, folks - it's (finally) time to go testing...

  122.   
    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson

    "Some new information has come in about Jenson Button's best lap yesterday. It was believed it was set on hard tyres but Pirelli now tell me - after I asked for clarification - that it was actually on a new set of soft tyres. Nevertheless, a glance through his times still suggests the McLaren looks strong."

  123. 0820: 

    Jenson Button's lap time on day one, which saw him finish second fastest, was considered to be mighty impressive considering the time was set on the hard compound tyre - or so we thought...

  124. 0813: 

    Mark Webber has also been talking about Lewis Hamilton, with the Red Bull driver telling BBC 5 live in an exclusive interview that he hopes the 2008 world champion can regain his form. But the Australian has also urged his Formula 1 rival to "look in the mirror and work out what's best for him" in reference to Hamilton's apparent magnetism to controversial incidents on track in 2011.

  125.   
    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson

    "Everyone in F1 agrees that Red Bull look the strongest team going into the season - even if McLaren appear to be pretty close. The team have some new parts to try at this final test and Mark Webber said after his run on Thursday that they hoped some of them are 'exciting'. Nevertheless, he predicts a close battle at the first race. 'I think it is going to be really tight. The racing will be between several teams for sure.'"

  126.  

    Williams driver Bruno Senna on Twitter: "Looking forward to getting back in the car this afternoon for pit-stop practices! Feels like it's been ages since last week!"

  127.  

    Ferrari on Twitter: "There is still the red light at the end of the pit lane due to the fog as the marshals cannot see the track properly."

  128. 0805: 

    In the meantime, here's who can expect to see out on track when the track eventually goes green: Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso, Michael Schumacher, Romain Grosjean, Nico Hulkenberg, Kamui Kobayashi, Jean-Eric Vergne, Pastor Maldonado (am), Bruno Senna (pm) and Heikki Kovalainen.

  129. 0800: 

    So it looks like we might be off to a slow start this morning thanks to the fog. As the track's medical helicopter won't be able to get up in the air in these conditions, there's no way testing can get going I'm afraid so we'll have to sit tight.

  130.  

    Force India on Twitter: "It's a foggy morning in Barcelona. Waiting to see if it lifts before the session starts. I expect we may have a delay."

  131.  

    BBC 5 live breakfast weather presenter Simon King: "It could well start a little misty first thing in the morning. This should gradually clear away to bring decent spells of sunshine throughout the day with a maximum air temperature of around 17 degrees. A gentle south westerly breeze shouldn't be too problematic."

  132. 0755: 

    With just five minutes to go until the session is due to get under way, here's our man Simon King with a look at today's weather at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya...

  133.   
    BBC Sport's chief F1 writer Andrew Benson

    "The star of the first day of the final test was undoubtedly Jenson Button. The McLaren driver was top of the timesheets for most of the day - and impressively that was with a lap on hard tyres. Lewis Hamilton takes over the McLaren on Friday and it seems the team are in good shape to mount a challenge to pre-season favourites Red Bull."

  134. 0750: 

    McLaren's Jenson Button was pipped to the fastest time on the first day by Romain Grosjean as the Lotus driver made good use of the softer tyres to beat him by 0.258 seconds in the closing stages. Button hands the reins over to team-mate Lewis Hamilton today with fellow world champions Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher also getting in on the action.

  135. 0745: 

    In 15 days, 23 hours and 15 minutes, the world's best drivers will accelerate off the start line in Melbourne, Australia to get the 2012 Formula 1 season under way. So how better to get you in the mood for that than by assessing where the protagonists are in terms of form? Let's go racing folks...

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