Toyota's Timo Glock topped the timesheets at Jerez de la Frontera today as poor weather conditions once again caused teams to amend their programmes.
Rather than waste a day in the difficult conditions, Ferrari opted not to run, leaving just seven teams in action completing 586 laps between them.
After a largely clear session yesterday, the heavens opened just before the start of today's action and persisted for the remainder of the day. With temperatures only just making it into double figures it was a cool day's work for Timo Glock. But the unusually consistent wet track conditions made it possible to run through a full programme of wet weather work.
"It tends to be difficult to carry out meaningful testing when there is so much rain," said Glock. "The conditions made things tricky again today but at least it stayed consistently wet so we were able to go through some work on set-up and tyres. It also gave me a chance to get used to pushing the TF109 in these conditions and we put more mileage on the car. It felt good again, just like in Portugal last month, so I'm happy with the day."
"Wet weather usually makes it hard to carry out comparative testing," added Pascal Vasselon, "but today was a very interesting day because the track stayed consistently wet throughout the sessions. That allowed us to do some useful work on set-up and tyres so we made the most out of the running time. The TF109 continues to be reliable and we were able to carry out a full day's work, collecting some helpful data."
Robert Kubica concentrated on set-up work. For the first time BMW had the opportunity to collect data on F1.09 running in wet conditions. That included a water-activated false electrical alarm which caused Kubica to stop on the track once. For the rest of the day the car ran without any problems, giving the driver and the engineers the chance to gain more knowledge about the 2009 car on unchanged wet tyres. The Pole completed 70 laps and also carried out a few race start simulations.
"Because of the reduced downforce, the F1.09's behaviour in wet conditions is quite different to last year's car," said Kubica. "There's less grip, which makes the car slide more."
Third quickest was Nico Rosberg in the Williams FW31. The German was the busiest driver today, completing 114 laps
"Despite the wet conditions and a red flag temporarily halting proceedings this morning, Nico still managed to complete a race distance," said Test Team Manager Dickie Stanford. "We then spent the afternoon on general wet weather set-up work. We've had a good day and haven't come across any problems with the car."
Giancarlo Fisichella continued Force India's first official test with the VJM02. Despite the recurrent showers and red flags, the Italian was able to accumulate further crucial data and evaluate both the Bridgestone extreme wet and standard wet tyres. Unfortunately however the team's running was interrupted by a fuel system problem mid-morning, but the VJM02 returned to the track for further laps at the end of the day. Adrian Sutil will take over driving duties tomorrow and will remain in the car for the final day of testing on Wednesday.
"Considering the amount of laps we did today, it is quite encouraging again," said Fisichella. "It is a reasonable time, six tenths off the fastest, so I am quite pleased. Unfortunately we had a problem with the fuel pressure again and didn't run enough. Then I was struggling a little bit to find the right set up with the full wet tyres but then at the end of the day the circuit was getting better and, as with several other people, we tried the standard wet and I felt much more comfortable with the balance. Hopefully tomorrow Adrian can do more laps and make sure we are fully ready for Barcelona."
"Again, difficult weather and we missed some of the better conditions in the morning as we had a few technical issues," admitted James Key. "It was the same problem with the fuel system, but we found a solution from mid morning onwards that allowed us to do some more running. Other than this problem the car has been very good and we ran through a programme of systems checks and balance comparisons between the extreme and the standard wet tyres. We're confident we're on top of the issues now and can get on with the programme tomorrow, where we will look at some more set up options."
For Red Bull, the original plan had been for the team to carry out development testing of the RB5 in the morning, before tackling a race simulation in the afternoon. However, the wet track saw the morning programme replaced with a run through of pit lane procedures and pit stops, which proved useful as this was the first time with the new car, that the pit crew due to be in action in Melbourne have worked through all the pit stop permutations together. In the afternoon, Vettel successfully completed the race distance.
Tomorrow, Mark Webber takes over behind the wheel, for the remaining three days of this five day test.