Sergio Perez fastest for second day in a row as Red Bull complete longest stint so far
Hamilton hit by gearbox failure; Alonso passes 100 laps for Ferrari; Limited running for Button and McLaren; Improvement from Marussia
By Mike Wise and Pete Gill
Last Updated: 28/02/14 9:31pm
As was the case on Thursday, the Force India driver took to the track late in the morning and his time of 1:35.570 remained the benchmark for the rest of the session.
Just 0.064s behind was Fernando Alonso on what was arguably Ferrari's most productive day of running so far. After Kimi Raikkonen's Day One track time was limited by an electrical problem and bodywork changes, his new team-mate managed to completed more than a century of laps.
"Six hundred kilometres are always welcome, but it's still too early to say we are a hundred percent ready for Melbourne," Alonso warned. "We still have a lot to learn, but I am happy with the way the day went.
"In the morning, we did some set-up work which taught us what was the best direction to go in, while in the afternoon, we managed to complete a race simulation and every lap we did can be added to the learning phase, which is the normal situation to be in during winter testing."
Alonso's long runs during the afternoon showed that it's not just Mercedes-powered teams that can impress in the reliability stakes. That much was further proved by Sauber's Esteban Gutierrez and also Marussia's Jules Bianchi. If Ferrari had a good day, then there was no doubt that the latter Banbury team appeared to make a step forward with Bianchi completing 75 laps and also setting the sixth-fastest time.
Meanwhile, the travails of Britons Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button also underlined that all of the Mercedes runners are still more than capable of developing gremlins of their own.
The McLaren driver spent most of the day stranded on just 20 laps before returning in the final hour.
As for Hamilton, his day was also bookended by two stoppages with the Briton spinning into the gravel within the first hour - "I just had a bit of a spin. Just testing out the gravel trap!" Hamilton told Sky Sports News - and then missing the final 60 minutes altogether due to a gearbox failure.
Ahead of Button and Hamilton sat Daniel Ricciardo, whose last day in Red Bull's troublesome RB10 yielded a more impressive P3 on the timesheets.
With 'emergency' vents sprouting from either side of the RB10, the car was able to complete its longest on-track stint of the winter, although it may not have been a coincidence that Ricciardo's 20-lap run was attempted in the final half-hour of the session when conditions were at their coolest.
The widespread suspicion that overheating remains a critical issue for the Renault-powered teams ahead of the new season was enforced, however, by both the Caterham and the Lotus catching fire.
Having finished fourth in the Constructors' Championship last year, Lotus have only racked up an insubstantial 173 laps so far this winter.
"It was a tough day for us with the fire," Pastor Maldonado admitted after his final day in the E22 before Melbourne.
"We need to keep working and for sure it's not an ideal situation for the team, or for me but we need to keep focus, work together and I hope for the future we can be better."
The Renault-powered Toro Rosso of Jean-Eric Vergne did at least record 61 laps, the most the team have managed in a single session this winter, on the day the French manufacturer submitted its power unit to the FIA for homologation - the process which effectively freezes its development for the season.
Just two more days of testing remain before the new campaign begins in Australia.