With McLaren having completed its two day test on Thursday, Fernando Alonso rose to the top of the time-sheets as the Monza test session drew to a conclusion.

Although technical problems meant the Renault team didn't take to the track until the afternoon, Alonso was still able to complete 93 laps of the Italian circuit, posting a best time of 1min 20.426secs to finish comfortably ahead of team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella as the championship leaders continued work on set-up, tyres and brakes for the Italian Grand Prix next weekend.

"We had a difficult morning: the circuit was in poor condition, and we were delayed by a number of niggling problems until mid-afternoon," chief test engineer Christian Silk said. "However, the mechanics and engineers did a great job to prepare the cars, and we collected a lot of good data this afternoon, completing our preparations for the race in Monza. It has been a very professional session, and we feel we are well prepared for the forthcoming race."

Anthony Davidson took over from Jenson Button for BAR and emerged as the third quickest driver on the day, the Brit proving to be one of the busiest drivers on track as he finished under a tenth of a second behind Fisichella and only narrowly ahead of Jarno Trulli who replaced Ralf Schumacher for his single day of testing for Toyota.

"We had a strong, reliable day," the Italian said. "We got through a lot of laps, mainly tyre testing and came to some firm conclusions for the Grand Prix. I also did some general set-up work.

"We learned quite a lot but it was a full, busy test and some of the opposition did seem to be very quick. The front of the grid is very competitive in Formula One at the moment but we will analyse everything and obviously I want to score more points in my home race."

With Ralf Schumacher and Ricardo Zonta having both run on other days, and Olivier Panis having put more miles on the teams V8 engine, chief test engineer Gerd Pfeiffer was pleased with a productive week.

"It was interesting technically because we had the latest specification chassis, the standard TF105 and also the V8 car," he said. "I was very pleased with the way the V8 test went because we did 450kms with the latest engine, which was almost three times the distance that we ran in the initial shakedown at Jerez before the summer break. The reliability was strong and Olivier's comments were very positive.

"With the development chassis we were running it for the first time and gathering some data that we can analyse at Cologne before doing further tests with the car."

Behind Trulli, Michael Schumacher finished the day with the fifth quickest time as Ferrari wrapped up its four day test. Again focusing on preparation work for the forthcoming Grand Prix, Schumacher set a best time of 1min 21.414secs, while test driver Luca Badoer ended the day with the eleventh quickest time - some seven tenths of a second off Schumacher's pace.

Behind Schumacher, Takuma Sato was sixth, narrowly ahead of Red Bull Racing's David Coulthard and Nick Heidfeld, who set the eighth quickest time of the day as the BMW Williams team brought the curtain down on its three day test.

Continuing the set-up work started earlier in the week, Heidfeld improved his Thursday time to a 1min 21.638secs while Nico Rosberg was back on track - going six tenths of a second quicker than he did on Wednesday to end the day twelfth, just behind Badoer's Ferrari.

"Nick and Nico finished off a successful test in Monza today, compromised only by a rear suspension problem, which we quickly isolated the cause of and subsequently found a solution to," technical director Sam Michael said. "Over the three day test, we finalised wing settings and mechanical set-up for the forthcoming Grand Prix as well as finalising our tyre compound choice with Michelin."

BMW motorsport director Mario Theissen was also pleased with the performance of the BMW engine during the test and said he felt the team was well prepared for next weekends Grand Prix.

"From the engine perspective, we feel well prepared for what will be a demanding Italian Grand Prix at Monza," he said. "This year's first and only test at the high speed circuit produced some positive results. The team covered a lot of mileage and the engines proved to be reliable on a track where the cars are flat out for 69 per cent of the lap. Furthermore, we worked on improvements for the traction control system while, on Friday, we also completed some practice starts."

Christian Klien powered the second Red Bull Cosworth to the ninth quickest time, while Felipe Massa returned to his 2005 mount for the final day of the test as he took over driving duties from Jacques Villeneuve in the Sauber. Massa completed 82 laps with a best time of 1min 22.100secs, ending the day tenth as the team prepared Massa's car for the Italian Grand Prix.

"In the morning the track was wet, but nevertheless we were able to sort out the Monza race specification for Felipe's car and finished our tyre selection work in the afternoon," Sauber test engineer Paul Russell said. "In the course of the day we had to change the engine as it has reached its mileage. Although this interrupted our schedule we could still complete our programme.

"This was the final test this season for us, and also the last one we did with Felipe and the Ferrari crew. Overall it was a good test and we gained decent results. Therefore we believe to be quite well prepared for the Italian Grand Prix next week."

BAR tester Adam Carroll completed a second day of running with the 13th quickest time, the Brit happy to get more time behind the wheel of an F1 car.

"It's been a good couple of days for me here, particularly today as I was able to cover a lot of mileage for the team - some 459 kms over 81 laps," he said. "This is the first time that I've driven the Monza circuit so it's been a very valuable experience to learn the track and also to get some preparation before the GP2 race here next weekend. I was a little frustrated at not being able to improve my lap time, but the time in the car has been invaluable."

Chief test engineer Mark Ellis declared himself pleased with the teams two day test, which had helped preparations for next weekends Grand Prix.

"Monza is now the only high speed, low downforce circuit on the F1 calendar so our test this week has been highly specific to the race next weekend," he said. "Our testing has been aimed at optimising the chassis, aero and tyres to the demands of sustained high-speed running, at speeds of over 360kph. We have had a productive two days including proving the latest specification Honda engine, completing more than two race weekends mileage."

Behind Carroll, an impressive Narain Karthikeyan in the Jordan was 14th, with Christijan Albers bringing up the rear as he replaced fellow Dutchman Robert Doornbos behind the wheel of the lone Minardi.

Focusing on chassis set-up work, tyre evaluation and the assessment of new aerodynamic parts, Albers completed nearly 100 laps as the perennial backmarkers racked up over 1000km of running from the two days.

"We had a really good day today," he said. "We made a big step forward, especially considering that this is the first time I've run at Monza and I didn't know the track. We started this morning recording immediately a good lap time and we have improved on this during the day by working intensively on the car.

"Traffic at the end of the session did not allow me to achieve a time as quick as I could have, but it's important to know that the car has the potential to go quicker. I think we can consider ourselves definitely satisfied."

Sporting director and team manager Massimo Rivola was also pleased with the test, adding that it had given the team useful information ahead of its home race next weekend.

"It has been another good day for Minardi," he said. "We covered a lot of laps, and again carried out work on different aerodynamic packages and assessed various tyre options. Considering Christijan was not feeling 100 per cent well today, he did the usual professional job we've come to expect. In total, we've covered 1000 km over the two days of this test without encountering any significant technical problems, which seems to indicate we've made a good step forward in terms of reliability. It has definitely been a useful test, and sets us up well in terms of our preparations for next weekend's Italian Grand Prix."

Leading times (26 August) - Monza.

1. Fernando Alonso Renault-Renault 1min 20.426secs 93 laps
2. Giancarlo Fisichella Renault-Renault 1min 21.197secs 69 laps
3. Anthony Davidson BAR-Honda 1min 21.267secs 110 laps
4. Jarno Trulli Toyota-Toyota 1min 21.360secs 113 laps
5. Michael Schumacher Ferrari-Ferrari 1min 21.414secs 79 laps *
6. Takuma Sato BAR-Honda 1min 21.420secs 92 laps
7. David Coulthard Red Bull-Cosworth 1min 21.592secs 131 laps
8. Nick Heidfeld Williams-BMW 1min 21.638secs 54 laps
9. Christian Klien Red Bull-Cosworth 1min 21.652secs 74 laps
10. Felipe Massa Sauber-Petronas 1min 22.100secs 82 laps
11. Luca Badoer Ferrari-Ferrari 1min 22.182secs 81 laps *
12. Nico Rosberg Williams-BMW 1min 22.321secs 48 laps
13. Adam Carroll BAR-Honda 1min 22.408secs 82 laps
14. Narain Karthikeyan Jordan-Toyota 1min 22.645secs 72 laps *
15. Christijan Albers Minardi-Cosworth1min 24.005secs 95 laps *

[* denotes Bridgestone tyres; all others on Michelin]

All times unofficial - courtesy of Renault

Comparative lap times:

Italian GP 2004:

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

 

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