Ferrari led the way on the final day of testing at Silverstone, with Felipe Massa handing Maranello a mid-season boost in its efforts to regain ground on arch-rivals McLaren.

The Brazilian spent the day concentrating on set-up work and new aerodynamic and mechanical components for the F2007, and wound up almost half a second clear of Williams star Nico Rosberg, who worked his way through aerodynamic upgrades on the FW29 in preparation for the upcoming French and British Grands Prix.

"The test team have done a really good job, and we've had a very positive three days here, working through a busy test schedule with no major problems," Williams' veteran test team manager Dickie Stanford commented. "Nico took over testing duties today and continued where Alex left off yesterday, putting the aero upgrades through their paces in time for Magny-Cours and Silverstone."

Reigning double world champion Fernando Alonso set the third-fastest lap time after focusing on aerodynamic developments, Bridgestone Potenza tyre evaluation and general set-up work. Running was interrupted in the morning session after an oil system problem was discovered on the Spaniard's McLaren-Mercedes, with light rain showers over lunchtime similarly limiting his laps during the early afternoon.

"This week has seen us intensively testing the MP4-22 package," stated McLaren chief operating officer Martin Whitmarsh, "with work concentrating on aerodynamic improvements and brake material testing.

"Despite some inconvenient interruptions over the course of the three days - mainly due to the weather - we feel confident we have achieved a good understanding of where we are in our preparations for the next set of back-to-back races in France and Britain. Although we were unable to complete the entire programme, the work we have done has been very effective at this crucial stage of the championship."

Nelson Piquet Jnr was fourth quickest for Renault - less than a tenth of a second shy of Rosberg's best effort - having covered the most laps of any driver present as he worked through a marathon session of tyre testing and development work on the improving R27.

"I was really pleased to be driving today," the 2006 GP2 runner-up remarked, "because I really enjoy this circuit and have always felt good here. I hadn't driven since the last test in Paul Ricard, so I was excited about this week.

"The car was handling well - better than I expected to be honest. We made good progress with our programme and collected interesting data which confirmed Heikki's work from earlier in the week. That's a positive sign."

"We rounded the week off with a very good day's work," concurred the R?gie's chief test engineer Christian Silk. "Nelson settled in quickly and felt comfortable straightaway, which helped us make good progress.

"We had no problems with the car, which is always satisfying, and continued working with the data Heikki had collected on the previous days. In overall terms, this has been a productive and useful test. We can see we are making progress step-by-step, but the other teams are doing the same and we know this isn't the time to take our foot off the pedal!"

Wednesday pace-setter Jarno Trulli ended up fifth as he focused on tyres, systems, aerodynamics, weight distribution and suspension work. The Toyota ace professed himself pleased with the Japanese outfit's progress.

"This week has gone pretty well for us," the Italian affirmed. "We've concentrated mainly on preparation for next month's British Grand Prix, but we've also done work in preparation for the coming race at Magny-Cours next weekend. Today I did some tyre comparisons and put some mileage on some other systems on the car.

"We've been reasonably quick over the last three days but all that matters is what you can achieve at the races. So far the season hasn't gone as well as we'd hoped but we will continue to push to get the best out of the package in the next few weeks. I'm looking forward to coming to race at Silverstone because I believe we should perform well here, but we still have three weeks to go and anything can change before then - including the weather!"

David Coulthard occupied sixth spot at the close of proceedings in his Red Bull Racing RB3, the Scot spending a busy day looking at suspension geometry changes, set-up and tyre choice for the next two races, as well as assessing the squad's new aero package.

"It was a busy day, but we got through the majority of our programme," commented RBR's chief test engineer Ian Morgan, "We have found solutions for most of the problems we encountered and have been able to sign off aero and suspension parts for the next two grands prix."

Timo Glock was half a second behind in seventh, as the BMW-Sauber tester ended a positive test for the team by focusing on tyres, different suspension parts and aerodynamics.

Scott Speed finished the day eighth for Scuderia Toro Rosso, with the only fly in the ointment for the American a failure in the power train - currently under investigation - which shortened his afternoon running.

"We did our homework on various solutions," commented technical director Giorgio Ascanelli. "Some paid off and some didn't. Until this afternoon, general reliability seems good, as we managed to put the equivalent of three race distances on the same quick-shift gearbox.

"In performance terms it seems better too, so to sum up these three days have allowed us to sign off new steering and suspension components and the quick-shift 'box for the French Grand Prix."

Spyker pairing Christijan Albers and Giedo van der Garde rounded out the ten drivers running, though the latter only completed six laps after spinning on his first run.

"On the second lap, it was already faster than Tuesday's lap time, but then, in the fast third corner, on the third lap the car snapped at the rear and it just got away," the test driver reported, "You're going pretty quick in that corner, but I just bounced across the gravel trap and then touched the wall and damaged the front wing. It took some time to repair and then I handed it back to Christijan so he could complete the programme."

Leading performances (21 June) - Silverstone:

1. Felipe Massa Ferrari-Ferrari 1min 20.805secs 87 laps
2. Nico Rosberg Williams-Toyota 1m 21.274s 98 laps
3. Fernando Alonso McLaren-Mercedes 1m 21.284s 58 laps
4. Nelson Piquet Jnr Renault-Renault 1m 21.357s 108 laps
5. Jarno Trulli Toyota-Toyota 1m 21.703s 70 laps
6. David Coulthard Red Bull-Renault 1m 21.933s 69 laps
7. Timo Glock BMW-Sauber 1m 22.456s 80 laps
8. Scott Speed Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m 23.049s 66 laps
9. Christijan Albers Spyker-Ferrari 1m 23.374 36 laps
10. Giedo van der Garde Spyker-Ferrari 1m 25.865 6 laps

All times unofficial - courtesy of McLaren-Mercedes

Track/weather conditions: Sunshine with light rain showers. Track temperature, 32.2? C / Ambient temperature, 19.0? C

 

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