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Ferrari's Fernando Alonso set the pace on the penultimate day of the second pre-season test in Barcelona, posting a time of 1:21.875 on a set of Soft tyres to lead Sauber's Nico Hülkenberg by 0.285 seconds. Romain Grosjean finished third for Lotus, recovering most of the team's lost ground with a total of 119 laps.
Even colder air and track temperatures greeted the Formula 1 paddock at the Circuit de Catalunya this morning, with conditions taking a slight turn for the worse. However, this was not on the mind of Adrian Sutil, with the German making his first Formula 1 outing since the 2011 Brazilian Grand Prix. He is in a direct fight with Jules Bianchi for the vacany alongside Paul di Resta at Force India, the latter no doubt hoping that the predicted rainfall fails to arrive on Friday.
The fastest times of the day came in the morning session, with Alonso, Hülkenberg and Grosjean all looking rapid on the Soft rubber. Lotus will be particularly pleased with the efforts of its driver, with the Frenchman completing the most mileage of the field after Kimi Räikkönen's technical problems on the opening two days of the test.
Nico Rosberg racked up double the amount of laps he managed on the opening day, touring 108 times in the F1 W04. Just behind the German, Pastor Maldonado and Valtteri Bottas occupied fifth and sixth after a shared day in the FW35 chassis. Importantly, Williams is still undecided over the route it is going to take at the front-end of its new car, with the 'stepped nose' making another appearance this morning.
McLaren again suffered a slow start to the day, this time with Jenson Button behind the wheel of the MP4-28 chassis. The 2009 World Champion looked comfortable once out on-track, but was confined to the garage for more than an hour after his initial installation laps. Sutil was next up in eighth place and, although some of his runs were a little erratic, he showed promising form after more than a year on the sidelines.
Mark Webber made his first appearance of the week at Red Bull, taking over from team-mate Sebastian Vettel. After some smaller morning stints he put together a 66-lap run, featuring a total of four pit-stops. Aside from the understandable testing anomalies, the Australian demonstrated consistent pace on the Medium compound tyre.
Jean-Éric Vergne was next up in the Toro Rosso, holding a comfortable margin over Marussia's Max Chilton and Caterham driver Giedo van der Garde. Having returned to the cockpit of the CT03 for the first time since Jerez, the latter signalled the only red flag of the day when he stopped on the exit of Turn 2 with ten minutes remaining.
Pre-season testing continues at the Circuit de Catalunya at 9am local time (GMT +1) on Friday and can be followed via the GPUpdate.net Live Report feature
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