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Formula One: Michael Schumacher shows he means business

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Michael Schumacher

Michael Schumacher

Michael Schumacher (left) of the Nazionali Piloti team challenges Ralf Weber of VIP Allstars during a football Charity match at the Am Boellenfalltor arena on July 16, 2008 in Darmstadt, Germany

Michael Schumacher (left) of the Nazionali Piloti team challenges Ralf Weber of VIP Allstars during a football Charity match at the Am Boellenfalltor arena on July 16, 2008 in Darmstadt, Germany

Michael Schumacher of Germany and Team Holzhauer Racing rides his bike during the International German Championship IDM training session at Sachsenring racetrack on June 12, 2009 in Hohenstein-Ernstthal, Germany

Michael Schumacher of Germany and Team Holzhauer Racing rides his bike during the International German Championship IDM training session at Sachsenring racetrack on June 12, 2009 in Hohenstein-Ernstthal, Germany

Michael Schumacher of Germany and Holzhauer Racing Team rides his bike during the International German Championship IDM training session at Sachsenring racetrack on June 12, 2009 in Hohenstein-Ernstthal, Germany

Michael Schumacher of Germany and Holzhauer Racing Team rides his bike during the International German Championship IDM training session at Sachsenring racetrack on June 12, 2009 in Hohenstein-Ernstthal, Germany

Formula One legend Michael Schumacher makes push ups during the charity football match between Nazionale Piloti and biggALLSTARS at Brita Arena on July 8, 2009 in Wiesbaden, Germany

Formula One legend Michael Schumacher makes push ups during the charity football match between Nazionale Piloti and biggALLSTARS at Brita Arena on July 8, 2009 in Wiesbaden, Germany

Manager Willy Weber (left) and Formula One legend Michael Schumacher pose for a photo ahead to the WBA Middleweight World Championship fight between Felix Sturm of Germany and Khoren Gevor of Armenia at Nuerburgring on July 11, 2009 in Nuerburg, Germany

Manager Willy Weber (left) and Formula One legend Michael Schumacher pose for a photo ahead to the WBA Middleweight World Championship fight between Felix Sturm of Germany and Khoren Gevor of Armenia at Nuerburgring on July 11, 2009 in Nuerburg, Germany

Michael Schumacher

Michael Schumacher fired a statement of intent on the second day of the pre-season Formula One test in Jerez, posting the fastest time in his new Mercedes.

The veteran German, who struggled at times on his return to the sport last season following a spell in retirement, set a best mark of one minute 20.352 seconds to finish less than a tenth of a second quicker than Felipe Massa's Ferrari.

The result continued Ferrari's strong start to the four-day test session, Massa having topped the timesheets yesterday.

McLaren were still feeling their way with the new MP4-26. Jenson Button took charge of the driving duties from Lewis Hamilton and his times slowly came down over a series of short runs as he finished third in 1min 21.009secs.

Toro Rosso again looked in decent shape, finishing fourth with Jaime Alguersuari at the wheel. It was not all plain sailing for the Spaniard, however, as he span at turn nine to trigger a red flag.

Red Bull again concentrated on long runs in the RB7 rather than ultimate lap time as Mark Webber finished fifth in 1:21.613.

The Force India VJM04 was sixth in the hands of Adrian Sutil, while Sauber rookie Sergio Perez, second on Thursday, had to be content with seventh place after a late crash.

Lotus Renault's Vitaly Petrov had a spin on his way to ninth place. Today he will hand over to Nick Heidfeld and Bruno Senna, who will battle it out to replace the injured Robert Kubica.

Virgin's Timo Glock finished ahead of Petrov in eighth, while Venezuelan rookie Pastor Maldonado finished the day in 10th place having completed only 38 laps.

A mechanical problem limited Lotus driver Jarno Trulli to 40 laps as he brought up the rear.

Belfast Telegraph