Sebastien Buemi continued to lead proceedings in Jerez, outpacing fellow Toro Rosso hopefuls Takuma Sato and Sebastien Bourdais on the second day of testing at the Spanish track.
The rising Swiss star once again lapped a full half a second quicker than his immediate opposition across the garage, his 1:18.073 catapulting him to the top of the time sheets ahead of Sato, with Bourdais finishing the day fourth.
All three Toro Rosso drivers are fighting for a race seat in 2009 with French champ car champion Sebastien Bourdais under increasing pressure to retain his position in the team.
Bourdais says he is struggling to find the funds needed to secure a drive next season amid the global financial crisis.
“I am on the lookout,â€ he was quoted as saying by German publication Auto Motor und Sport. “But in the current economic crisis it is difficult to find money. [And] Not only in France.â€
McLaren’s Pedro de la Rosa split the Toro Rosssos after spending the day working on a new aero package for 2009.
Heikki Kovalainen was also at the helm for the Woking squad and the Finn put some mileage on the KERS-fitted MP4-23. The 27-year-old wound up sixth quickest, ahead of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen.
Felipe Massa made his first major testing appearance since narrowly losing the world championship to Lewis Hamilton at the season finale in Brazil. The Brazilian completed only 27 laps.
Double world champion Fernando Alonso was also back in action, amid news that Renault may take up the option to use a standard engine in 2009. The French team denied the rumours.
“It was a good day and I’m happy to be back in the car,” said Alonso after completing 105 laps and going seventh quickest behind Raikkonen.
“Unfortunately I damaged the car a little bit in the morning and so we lost some running, but the team did a good job to repair the car quickly and I was able to run almost all of the afternoon without any problems.
“It was nice to run on the slick tyres as they are more grippy, but when you lose the downforce from the car they don’t feel massively different to grooved tyres.”
BMW-Sauber driver Nick Heidfeld ended the day ninth quickest ahead of Massa and teammate Robert Kubica. The latter BMW driver completing just 38 laps after his car stopped out on the track in the afternoon.
Day 2 Times:
Pos Driver Team Time Laps
1. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) 1:18.073 128
2. Sato Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) 1:18.601 38
3. de la Rosa McLaren-Mercedes (B) 1:18.673 81
4. Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) 1:19.032 78
5. Raikkonen Ferrari (B) 1:19.334 89
6. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes (B) 1:19.631 64
7. Alonso Renault (B) 1:19.907 106
8. Rosberg Williams-Toyota (B) 1:20.309 122
9. Heidfeld BMW-Sauber (B) 1:20.365 87
10. Massa Ferrari (B) 1:20.490 27
11. Kubica BMW-Sauber (B) 1:20.954 38