Rainmaster Sebastian Vettel helped Red Bull to the top of the testing timesheets for the first time on the opening day of the second pre-season test to be held at Jerez.

With the forecasted wet weather hitting the circuit, however, it largely rendered the times meaningless.

Intermittent showers were the mainstay of the day, and only brief bursts of sunshine hit the track. Not surprisingly, the drivers were nowhere near the benchmark time set by McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton on the final day’s testing at Jerez last week – Vettel’s quickest time of 1:22.593 was some three seconds adrift.

Hamilton had set the early pace after the morning’s running, but was steadily shuffled down the pecking order and only bounced back with a late flier to take second-quickest overall.

Felipe Massa set the third-quickest times in his Ferrari F10, which completed 72 largely trouble-free laps.

The seemingly-promising Toro Rosso again shone, courtesy of Sébastien Buemi – evaluting a new braking package – and Pedro de la Rosa again took the steady Sauber Ferrari to fifth overall.

Michael Schumacher completed the most timed laps of any driver during the day (111 all up), and ran on the wet, intermediate and dry tyres during the test in his Mercedes GP.

Force India split its driving duties between its test driver, Paul di Resta, and main driver Adrian Sutil – the newly-signed Scot getting his first laps in the VJM03. Not surprisingly, the more experienced Sutil was the quicker of the pair, but only by a small margin.

Both ran quicker than Vitaly Petrov, with the Renault driver now getting pretty desperate for some dry running in the lead-up to the season opener in just over three weeks’ time.

Rubens Barrichello was the slowest driver from the main teams, and his Williams FW32 suffered two stoppages on the circuit – crucially, when the track was at its driest. His times were, understandably, some five seconds slower than Vettel’s quickest lap of the day.

Lotus debuted its much-anticipated T127 with test driver Fairuz Fauzy at the wheel. It was largely a day of systems and reliability checks for the Malaysian-owned team, and on a wet track with no power steering, it was not surprising that he was well off the pace. Crucially, however, the car ran reliably.

Which is more than can be said for Virgin Racing. The team has endured a nightmare start to its first season in F1, blighted by mechanical and wing component failures and not helped by a shortage of spare parts. Lead driver Timo Glock completed just 10 timed laps and was slowest of all.

The maiden laps of the Lotus T127 occurred on a soaked track surface

Hamilton again looks odds-on for a successful 2010 season

Reliability is still an issue for the Williams FW32, suffering two stoppages today

Toro Rosso and Sauber have been the surprises of pre-season testing so far

Paul di Resta had his first taste of the VJM03 and acquitted himself well

It was Mike Gascoyne’s first visit to the pitwall since his Force India days

Wednesday’s testing times:

1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Renault 1:22.593 (103 laps)
2. Lewis Hamilton McLaren Mercedes 1:23.017 (72)
3. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:23.204 (72)
4. Sébastien Buemi Toro Rosso Ferrari 1:23.322 (79)
5. Pedro de la Rosa Sauber Ferrari 1:23.367 (77)
6. Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP 1:23.803 (111)
7. Adrian Sutil Force India Mercedes 1:24.272 (28)
8. Paul di Resta Force India Mercedes 1:25.088 (76)
9. Vitaly Petrov Renault 1:26.237 (59)
10. Rubens Barrichello Williams Cosworth 1:27.320 (09)
11. Fairuz Fauzy Lotus Cosworth 1:31.848 (76)
12. Timo Glock Virgin Racing Cosworth 1:32.417 (10)

[Images via ITV-F1]

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.