Sauber, Ferrari and McLaren all returned to Mugello after a day off to remember fallen marshal Paolo Ghislimberti, but there was little change in the running order.

Olivier Panis once again topped the times, out-pacing Michael Schumacher and Kimi Raikkonen and earning himself a share of the outright circuit record after equalling Rubens Barrichello's lap time from an earlier test. The Frenchman completed 34 laps at the wheel of the McLaren-Mercedes MP4-15, before the session was curtailed at lunchtime.

Schumacher was second overall, but lapped over half a second off Panis' pace in the Ferrari. The Italian GP winner continued the programme he inherited on Wednesday, focusing on settings for Indianapolis, as well as getting an early taste of the harder rubber expected to be provided by Bridgestone for the USGP. Despite being slower than the McLaren, Schumacher appeared unconcerned.

''I am quite pleased and confident,'' the German revealed, ''The engineers have done a lot of simulations [for the USGP], and we are looking good. Nevertheless, when I get to Indianapolis, I will still walk one lap of the circuit [to help me understand what we need to do].''

Sauber persevered with FRenault graduate Kimi Raikkonen, following Pedro Diniz's return home on Tuesday, and the Finn did not disappoint as he continued to adapt to Formula One power.

''Kimi continued his training with us, and his lap times remained impressive,'' admitted test team boss Jacky Eeckelaert, ''We realised after Tuesday that he was quite at home in the cockpit, and his performance [over] the three days show that he is a young man who drives extremely well, despite a lack of experience at this level.''

''I have really enjoyed this fantastic experience,'' Raikkonen added, ''It has been one that I will value very highly. There are lots of different things to learn in an F1 car and, of course, you need time for that, but I am pleased with the way I have driven, and how my neck has stood up to the heavy G-loads. I've had a great time.''

Testing will now largely cease as the teams prepare for the trip to America, but Sauber plans to return to Mugello after Indianapolis to get ready for the season-ending races at Suzuka and Sepang.

Leading performances (15 September):

Olivier Panis McLaren-Mercedes 1min 24.64secs 34 laps
Michael Schumacher Ferrari-Ferrari 1min 25.32secs 40 laps
Kimi Raikkonen Sauber-Petronas 1min 27.46secs 37 laps

[Times courtesy Red Bull Sauber Petronas]