The first day of the FIA Formula Two Championship’s winter testing programme is underway in Portimão, with a sudden morning downpour ensuring the day will start in wet conditions.

In total 14 drivers from ten different nations will experience the Williams JPH1B F2 car, although 2010 Formula Palmer Audi Champion Nigel Moore was unable to travel to Portugal due to the extremely adverse weather conditions currently gripping the UK.

Among the 14 drivers, Portugal’s Antonio Felix da Costa will make his F2 bow little more than two weeks after a highly impressive rookie performance saw him finish third fastest on the opening day of Formula One’s official young driver test at Abu Dhabi.

He will be joined at the Algarve circuit by 2010 FIA Formula Two runner-up Jolyon Palmer, who recently tested for iSport, Arden and ART in GP2. Jack Clarke, Benjamin Lariche, Natalia Kowalska and Plamen Kralev all raced at the Algarve this season in F2 and return for winter testing, while Ramón Piñeiro – who made his F2 debut in the final round of 2010 at Valencia – also joins the test.

They will be joined by Brazil’s Andre Negrao, Spain’s Bruno Mendez and German duo Thiemo Storz and Kevin Mirocha – the latter of whom was impressive in F2 testing at the end of 2009.

Alex Brundle meanwhile returns to F2 after a year in British F3, having contested the championship’s first season in 2009. Fellow F3 competitor Max Snegirev also makes the transition to F2 for the series’ winter tests, with Formula Palmer Audi graduate Vincent Beltoise completing the testing line-up for the opening day.

The day will commence when the pit lane opens at 09:30 local time, with the first session running until 12:00. Drivers will then have two hours to trawl through comprehensive data reports with their engineers, before the pitlane re-opens at 14:00 for a two hour session in which the second set on new tyres will be made available. There will be a final 40 minute session commencing at 16:20, in which overboost will be enabled.