Michael Schumacher led the way in the second morning of Formula 1's preseason test at Jerez, while Mark Webber was the best of the runners in 2012 machinery.
It was the Australian who set the early pace as he dropped down to a 1m19.184s, at the time putting him 1.1sec clear of the field. While all eyes were therefore on Webber and the RB8 – the car with which Red Bull is bidding to defend its 2011 crowns – it was Schumacher who stole the limelight with a series of blistering laps in Mercedes' 2011 car.
A three-lap burst allowed the German to get down to a 1m18.622s, which he duly lowered on his next run, dropping to a 1m18.561s. That was comfortable enough to put the German on top halfway through the second day, with Webber – unable to improve on his early time – ending up second, more than half a second down.
Daniel Ricciardo was the only other driver to dip below the 1m20s mark, putting him third fastest at the midway mark of a session in which yesterday's pacesetter Kimi Raikkonen suffered an early off at Curva Dry Sac. The Finn had completed just four laps when he ran wide and into the gravel at the tight right-hander. He was able to rejoin, but damaged his car on the curbs as he did so. He also dragged gravel onto the track, leading to the first of two early red flags, the second following shortly after for further checks at the corner.
Lotus took the opportunity to not only repair his car but also adjust the steering column, and when he was able to get back under way he quickly rose to fifth, behind Force India reserve driver Jules Bianchi, who completed 46 laps before handing over to Paul di Resta for the afternoon.
Jenson Button took McLaren's MP4-27 to sixth fastest, more than two seconds down on Schumacher. Felipe Massa was little more than three tenths farther back for Ferrari, with the team again choosing to focus on aerodynamic and setup work rather than chase outright lap times.
After completing just 25 laps yesterday, Pastor Maldonado enjoyed far more running in the Williams, ending eighth fastest after completing 61 laps in the morning.
Sergio Perez, taking over Sauber duties from Kamui Kobayashi, edged Caterham's Heikki Kovalainen for 10th. The Finn put yesterday's broken starter shaft woe behind him by completing 78 laps, the most of any driver.
Pedro de la Rosa in the 2011 HRT rounded out the morning's runners.
Pos Driver Team Time Laps
1. Michel Schumacher Mercedes 1m18.561s 53
2. Mark Webber Red Bull 1m19.184s + 0.623 58
3. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1m19.587s + 1.026 41
4. Jules Bianchi Force India 1m20.221s + 1.660 46
5. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1m20.239s + 1.678 26
6. Jenson Button McLaren 1m20.688s + 2.127 25
7. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m21.060s + 2.499 38
8. Pastor Maldonado Williams 1m21.197s + 2.636 61
9. Sergio Perez Sauber 1m21.289s + 2.728 35
10. Heikki Kovalainen Caterham 1m21.518s + 2.957 78
11. Pedro de la Rosa HRT 1m23.468s + 4.907 23