Massa sets pace in Monza as testing returns

Ferrari's Felipe Massa topped unofficial timesheets Wednesday as Formula One teams gathered in Monza, Italy, to resume testing after a summer break. Specific targets for this three-day test are upcoming races at Spa, Belgium, and Monza, fast...

Ferrari's Felipe Massa topped unofficial timesheets Wednesday as Formula One teams gathered in Monza, Italy, to resume testing after a summer break. Specific targets for this three-day test are upcoming races at Spa, Belgium, and Monza, fast tracks that call for low-downforce settings. Bridgestone has brought medium-and hard-compound tires for evaluation.

Working on a sunny day with temperatures reaching just past 80 degrees Fahrenheit with track temps touching 120, Massa paced out a fast lap of 1 minute, 23.428 in the F2008 without technical problems, Scuderia Ferrari announced.

After working on setup in the morning, the Brazilian took long runs in the afternoon to complete 101 laps of the 3.5-mile Autodromo Nazionale di Monza.

The team determined a con rod was the culprit in Kimi Raikkonen's engine failure in Sunday's European Grand Prix. Massa suffered the same problem in the previous race, in Hungary. The con rods were from the same batch so Raikkonen's engine problem was not unexpected. But with pit-stop problems highlighting the team's European Grand Prix in Valencia, Spain, Ferrari can be expected to work on pit stops during this test.

Following Massa on timesheets was Heikki Kovalainen of McLaren Mercedes (1:23.439), Nico Rosberg of Williams (1:23.461), Sebastian Vettel of Scuderia Toro Rosso (1:23.691), Rubens Barrichello of Honda (1:23.827), Mark Webber of Red Bull (1:24.005), Nick Heidfeld of BMW Sauber (1:24.075), Vitantonio Luizzi of Force India (1:24.239), Jarno Trulli of Toyota (1:24.510), and Nelsinho Piquet of Renault (1:24.540).

Kovalainen's task was to evaluate McLaren's Monza-spec, low-downforce aerodynamic package. He focused on brakes and setup in 78 laps.

Rosberg covered 60 laps in the FW30 without major problems. "It's been a productive day, with the team concentrating on setup evaluations ahead of the race here in a couple of weekends' time," Williams test team manager Dickie Stanford said.

Vettel again placed himself among the front runners to show he is the current class of the Red Bull family. The Ferrari-powered STR3 was among five runners able to time under 1:24. The German drove 99 laps.

Barrichello covered 85 laps and pulled the RA108 to fifth-best time, an encouraging effort for the speed-challenged Honda team.

Heidfeld followed Webber, who completed 96 laps, with a busy morning of suspension setup, gearbox ratio adjustments and brake balance for the F1.08. By afternoon, focus shifted to aerodynamics. Heidfeld completed 77 laps.

The only test driver among race drivers, Liuzzi, who drove 99 laps in the VJM01, gave a respectable showing for Force India, outpacing veteran Trulli, who completed 92 laps.

Piquet put in the highest lap total, 117, in the R28-04. "It was a good day's work and nice to complete so many laps," Piquet said. "It's the fastest circuit of the year and so we were trying out our low-downforce package, which went well, although it always feels strange to drive with such little downforce on the car. The track was also quite green, which didn't help, but I was happy with the setup work we completed, even though we still have a lot to learn."

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Jarno Trulli , Rubens Barrichello , Mark Webber , Nick Heidfeld , Kimi Raikkonen , Felipe Massa , Nico Rosberg , Heikki Kovalainen , Sebastian Vettel
Teams Ferrari , Mercedes , Sauber , McLaren , Force India , Toro Rosso , Williams