The third day of testing at Monza was another busy one with once again 20 drivers from all 11 teams at work. Felipe Massa was back at the top of the times with a best of 1:21.101 and Ferrari teammate Michael Schumacher was fourth fastest. Tyre...
The third day of testing at Monza was another busy one with once again 20 drivers from all 11 teams at work. Felipe Massa was back at the top of the times with a best of 1:21.101 and Ferrari teammate Michael Schumacher was fourth fastest. Tyre work was the focus for Ferrari's last day in preparation for the Italian Grand Prix at this track next weekend.
Renault's Fernando Alonso was second quickest, eight tenths off Massa, and test driver Heikki Kovalainen was 11th on the list to conclude the team's week. They too worked mainly on tyres. "This was a good way to round off a busy week, with lots of laps and plenty of new knowledge about the tyres," said chief test engineer Christian Silk.
"We have a good starting point from which to approach next week's Grand Prix, I think. This was an important and demanding test for the team, and every member worked to their maximum until the early hours each day. But that just goes to show how motivated we are to defend our championship lead!"
Christian Klien was third on the time sheet for Red Bull and teammate David Coulthard was 13th. Both drivers worked on tyre compound and construction programmes for the forthcoming race on the last day. Toro Rosso also had both its racers present, Tonio Liuzzi 15th and Scott Speed 17th and they worked on the same programme as their Red Bull counterparts.
"The drivers all did a good job, delivering a fault free performance, which is why we managed to cover in excess of 2000 kilometres," said Toro Rosso chief engineer Laurent Mekies. "So we have plenty of data to study and all will now depend on what conditions we find here when we return for the race in one week's time."
Nico Rosberg was the lead Williams in fifth and team test driver Alex Wurz was seventh. "Alex concentrated on comprehensive tyre tests, which took up the bulk of today's running, although there were some new mechanical parts being tested for reliability at the same time," test team manager Mike Condliffe. "Nico completed work on the specific aero package we will run next week as well as some smaller aero parts before finishing the remainder of our tyre tests ahead of the race."
Kimi Raikkonen was scheduled to be testing this week but decided to give it a miss to allow time for his back to recover from his crash in the Turkish GP. He is expected to be fit for Italy. McLaren fielded Pedro de la Rosa and tester Gary Paffett today, sixth and ninth fastest respectively. Paffett suffered an engine failure in the afternoon but he was able to return to the track after a change.
"Monza is the only circuit that we test on so close to the actual race and as a result the programme this week has been very much focused on the Italian Grand Prix," said McLaren CEO Martin Whitmarsh. "We have achieved some positive results with both Gary and Pedro, and we go into the race next weekend with a greater understanding of what to expect from the circuit."
Test driver Ricardo Zonta, eighth quickest, had a busy day driving both Toyotas as Ralf Schumacher was unwell and called it a day at lunchtime. Zonta concluded work on set up and tyres in the TF106/07B and TF106/06B chassis, 60 laps in the former and 50 in the latter, and set his best time in the 07.
"It is unfortunate that we could not run both cars at the same time in the afternoon, but I think we the team did a good job preparing the cars so I could drive both and collect the data we needed," said the Brazilian. "Like always, it's hard to say how we will do next weekend, but I think we have a competitive package and we will just have to wait and see."
Jenson Button was 10th overall and Honda teammate Rubens Barrichello was 14th. Both experienced engine problems, which Honda said it is currently investigating, but worked on tyres, electronics and aerodynamics. Button had a suspension issue in the afternoon that sent him off track and into the barriers at Parabolica but he was unharmed.
"We spent most of my two days concentrating on tyre testing with Michelin to gather the data to choose the tyres for the race," Button said. "There has been resurfacing work at Monza and the new asphalt is of a different composition which has made the tyre testing particularly challenging, but I believe that we have the data now to make the right choice."
BMW Sauber had Robert Kubica 12th and rookie tester Sebastian Vettel, who is expected to continue Friday duties for the team at the Italian GP, 16th. Kubica had an off track excursion in the morning and couldn't return to work until after lunch, when he continued race preparations and tyre test. Vettel focused on set up and aerodynaimcs and some systems tests.
Tiago Monteiro took over from Christijan Albers at MF1 on the last day and was 18th fastest. He had a busy day with a programme of tyres, brakes, aerodynamic components and general set up. The team reported an improvement in lap times over the last three days, Monteiro's today over 1.5 seconds up on tester Giorgio Mondini on Tuesday.
"We focused entirely on long runs and didn't do a qualifying simulation, so the times are not as low as they might have been otherwise, which is quite encouraging," said Monteiro. "But it's very good data for the race, and we're pleased with the 100 laps we were able to put in today."
The Super Aguri of Takuma Sato rounded off the times in 19th to complete the team's tyre programme. "We encountered a few problems this morning which meant that we had a late start to our running and a gearbox problem in the afternoon meant that we were unable to complete our planned programme, but we have collected the data we require for the race next week," he commented.