Juan Montoya continued to set the pace during the latest Formula One group test at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza, racking up his second lap record in as many days as McLaren maintained the pressure on its rivals.

Montoya headed race colleague Kimi Raikkonen in a 1-2 at the head of the timesheets, the pair split by a couple of tenths with a similar gap back to the next best man, Michael Schumacher, after JPM set the pace with 1min 19.814secs.

"It has been an encouraging test - the car has run really well at Monza, and it feels quick," Montoya noted, "We put in some quick times, and hopefully we can keep this pace for the race. However, I have also completed a number of long stints over the course of the test, and have some valuable information for the tyre selection process with Michelin for both Italy and Spa."

Unlike some of its rivals, McLaren completed its test today, with both Montoya and Raikkonen running a MP4-20 fitted with a Monza-spec low downforce aero package.

"It was a positive session for me, we completed our scheduled programme and set-up work for the Italian Grand Prix went well," Raikkonen reported, "I am looking forward to the race now.

"It was a bit of a difficult afternoon for us yesterday, because we had to spend some time working on the car following the minor issue with the gearbox, but the team worked really hard to get the car out on track to complete a couple of installation laps, and that set us up for the good running today."

Having opted to run at the Autodromo ahead of the group session, Ferrari moved into its third day of testing, this time with world champion Schumacher and development regular Luca Badoer at the wheel F2005s. The pair worked on a programme of aerodynamics, engine developments and tyre evaluation for the forthcoming Italian Grand Prix. Schumacher completed 96 laps, with Badoer adding another 78, after the German took over from 2006 team-mate Felipe Massa.

Although Montoya completed 120 tours on his way to top spot, the greatest number of laps covered by any one man went to Giancarlo Fisichella, who racked up a mammoth 145 in taking fourth spot for Renault. In conjunction with regular team-mate Fernando Alonso, sixth fastest, the Italian completed 1600km in the day, adding nearly three race distances to the work he conducted on day one. Alonso, meanwhile, was merely close to completing two-and-a-half grands prix.... The heavy workload focused on tyre and brake testing, and was designed to protect the team against the forecast threat of rain that could disrupt running on Friday.

"We had a big programme to run today, and it required a disciplined approach to get everything done," admitted chief test engineer Christian Silk, "The bulk of our work was on tyre testing - compounds and constructions - for both Monza and Spa. We also took time to conduct brake evaluation and tick this off our job list for the grand prix here at Monza, and also completed some set-up work for next weekend and the following race in Spa."

Splitting the two Renaults, Mark Webber recorded an encouraging fifth fastest time for Williams and BMW, as well as covering 123 laps of his own. The Australian was joined by Nick Heidfeld, replacing impressive stand-in Nico Rosberg, to work on a programme of set-up work in preparation for the Italian Grand Prix. The team also carried out further investigations following the tyre incidents that blighted its Turkish appearance last weekend.

"Mark and Nick completed aero tests, tyre evaluations and set-up work on both cars for next week's GP here," test team manager Tim Newton commented.

Having sat out what was supposed to be its first day of testing at Monza on Wednesday, BAR ran both its race regulars - Jenson Button and Takuma Sato - as well as development squad member Adam Carroll during the day.

Button lapped close to Alonso's time in seventh spot, with Sato next up. The Briton enjoyed a productive morning session as he ran an aerodynamic evaluation, completing 51 laps, before continuing with a planned programme of tyre and set-up work after lunch,raising his total to 117 laps. Sato's morning was less successful, as a gearbox problem limited his running to 22 laps, but he proved more productive in the afternoon, as a trouble-free session allowed him to complete his own tyre evaluation, completing 97 laps. Carroll began his stint with the team by learning both car and circuit, eventually completing 37 laps and setting the 18th fastest time.

Red Bull Racing's David Coulthard set the final top ten time, lapping a couple of tenths quicker than team-mate Christian Klien, who replaced local favourite Tonio Liuzzi in the second car.

Behind the Austrian, Sauber continued its three-day test with Jacques Villeneuve adding 119 laps to the century he racked up on Wednesday. The Canadian made the most of a rare two-day test - enabled by team-mate Felipe Massa's outing with Ferrari on day one - to get closer to his ideal Monza set-up.

"We finalised the race specification for Jacques' car and confirmed the aerodynamic parts for Monza," test engineer Paul Russell confirmed, "We also started to work with Michelin on the tyre selection programme for the forthcoming grand prix, which we will continue with Felipe tomorrow. Apart from this, Felipe will also help us to validate Jacques' results from the last two days, and work on a basic set-up for his car for the Italian Grand Prix."

Toyota maintained a low profile for the second successive day, although Ralf Schumacher was at least able to set a lap time on this occasion. The German was the first man not to break below the 1min 22secs barrier, but completed 107 laps of data acquisition nonetheless. He was partnered by test driver Olivier Panis, who continued to work with the team's new-for-2006 V8 engine.

Between the two red-and-white machines, F1's minnows got to work with Jordan fielding no fewer than three drivers - Tiago Monteiro, regular reserve Nicolas Kiesa and occasional tester Nicky Pastorelli. The trio sandwiched the lone Minardi of Robert Doornbos in 16th spot, but the Dutchman completed the highest total among the quartet, with 70 laps to his credit.

Leading times (25 August) - Monza.

Juan Pablo Montoya McLaren-Mercedes 1min 19.814secs 120 lapsKimi Raikkonen McLaren-Mercedes 1min 20.072secs 74 lapsMichael Schumacher Ferrari-Ferrari 1m 20.287secs 96 laps *Giancarlo Fisichella Renault-Renault 1min 20.769secs 145 lapsMark Webber Williams-BMW 1min 20.983secs 123 lapsFernando Alonso Renault-Renault 1min 21.094secs 131 lapsJenson Button BAR-Honda 1min 21.243secs 117 lapsTakuma Sato BAR-Honda 1min 21.448secs 97 lapsLuca Badoer Ferrari-Ferrari 1min 21.508secs 78 laps *David Coulthard Red Bull-Cosworth 1min 21.718secs 87 lapsNick Heidfeld Williams-BMW 1min 21.803secs 59 lapsChristian Klien Red Bull-Cosworth 1min 21.909secs 91 lapsJacques Villeneuve Sauber-Petronas 1min 21.924secs 119 lapsRalf Schumacher Toyota-Toyota 1min 22.148secs 107 lapsTiago Monteiro Jordan-Toyota 1min 23.390secs 50 laps *Robert Doornbos Minardi-Cosworth1min 24.805secs 73 laps *Nicky Pastorelli Jordan-Toyota 1min 24.806secs 34 laps *Adam Carroll BAR-Honda 1min 25.099secs 36 lapsNicolas Kiesa Jordan-Toyota 1min 25.104secs 25 laps *Olivier Panis Toyota-Toyota [V8] 1min 26.125secs 24 laps

[* denotes Bridgestone tyres; all others on Michelin]

All times unofficial - courtesy of Sauber

Comparative lap times:

Italian GP 2004:

Fastest lap: Rubens Barrichello Ferrari 1min 21.046secs Pole position: Rubens Barrichello Ferrari 1min 20.089secs



Loading Comments...