Montagny fastest at the end of testing

The last scheduled test session of the year came to a close on December 16th, as seven drivers from four teams ended the week at Jerez de la Frontera. Franck Montagny prepared to bow out of his official test and third driver role at Renault with the fastest time of 1:18.334. The Frenchman's last day of duty for the team will be a Michelin wet tyre test on Saturday.

Franck Montagny.
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"The final laps today were quite an unusual feeling: I wanted to really enjoy them to the maximum, and I managed to do that. I have had two very good years with the team, and established some very good relationships," said Montagny. "Now, for me, it is time to turn a new page: I want to be racing again, and I hope I can make that happen next year."

World champion Fernando Alonso returned to the Renault cockpit for the first time since the Chinese GP and was third on the time sheet. It was the Spaniard's initial taste of the restricted V10 engine and he spent the day acclimatizing to the reduced power and the adjustments to his set up and driving style required.

"It was a positive day for me: I ran with the simulated engine power to understand how it will be next year, and everything went well," said Alonso. "You can feel the power loss straight away, but you get used to it quickly and in any case, everybody is dealing with the same thing."

Splitting the two Renaults was the Ferrari of Michael Schumacher in second fastest, just a couple of tenths behind Montagny. The German swapped between the V8-powered F2004M and the F2005 fitted with the restricted V10, and completed a total of 114 laps.

"I am happy to be back driving again and I am very pleased with these two days of testing at Jerez, which went off without any particular problems," said Schumacher. "It shows the team has worked well over the past few weeks, as has Bridgestone on the tyre front."

Nico Rosberg was the quicker of the two Williams cars on track in fourth and the team again had Narain Karthikeyan behind the wheel, seventh. Honda was the fourth team at work, with test driver Anthony Davidson fifth on the time sheet and Jenson Button sixth. Button will also join the Michelin test on Saturday.

Honda's three day test utilised the '06 Concept cars and included aerodynamic evaluations, tyre development and engine and chassis set up. "The work with the new V8 engine and tyre developments for 2006 has been extremely encouraging," said chief test engineer Mark Ellis.

"We have had some small issues today, running components to high mileages, but in general the performance and reliability of the new engine and gearbox packages has been outstanding. We finish off with one final day in the wet tomorrow before a well earned break."