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Romain Grosjean underlined the competitiveness of Lotus on day two of the F1 test at Mugello, but Sauber's Kamui Kobayashi also went well.
Tuesday's running had been heavily affected by rain, but after a damp start the teams were able to take full advantage of a dry track on Wednesday, with Grosjean setting the time to beat by lapping the Italian track in one minute 21.603 seconds before lunch.
The Frenchman's performance suggests the pace the team showed in picking up a double podium in Bahrain was no fluke, although his time was equalled by Kobayashi during the dying embers of the day.
World champion Sebastian Vettel and team-mate Mark Webber shared the running for Red Bull, with the German's afternoon time proving marginally quicker than that managed by the Australian in the morning as they finished third and fourth.
Felipe Massa was fifth for Ferrari at their home track with the Toro Rosso pair of Jean Eric-Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo, who had less than an hour's running, next up to cap a good day for the Red Bull-affiliated teams.
Michael Schumacher completed the most laps today as the German racked up a total of 144 in his Mercedes to finish the day eighth, ahead of the Marussia of Charles Pic and Vitaly Petrov's Caterham.
Gary Paffett was 11th for McLaren having managed just 59 laps, one place ahead of Timo Glock in the second Marussia.
It also proved a challenging day for Paffett's fellow Briton Paul di Resta.
The Scot only got in 14 laps due to technical problems to languish in 13th place, with only the Williams of Bruno Senna slower than him.
Grosjean said: "It's always good to end the day on top, but we have to remember that in testing lap times mean very little.
"Having said that, the car felt great and I was very comfortable from the start. This test gives us an opportunity to try things that we wouldn't have time to do during a race weekend, so hopefully it'll help us to keep pushing forward.
"We've done a lot of set-up work today, and for sure we'll need to take some time to look through all the data and analyse what we need to focus on tomorrow, but it's a good baseline for the final day."