Pedro de la Rosa ensured that McLaren remained on top of proceedings at Monza as the pre-Italian Grand Prix test drew to a close a day later than scheduled.

With rain falling on both the second and third days, nine of the eleven teams elected to stay on for a final day of running, with Renault and Spyker being the only ones to head for home.

Taking over at the wheel from compatriot Fernando Alonso, test driver de la Rosa got his chance to complete some valuable running, although further rain overnight meant he only completed an exploratory lap during the morning on wet tyres before starting his programme proper in the afternoon.

Working alongside Bridgestone, de la Rosa worked on a tyre evaluation programme for the GP while continuing with aerodynamic testing, brake selection, set-up and mechanical work.

Behind de la Rosa, Felipe Massa was second for Ferrari while Robert Kubica was third for BMW Sauber. The Pole continued with the programme he started on Thursday and concentrated on the set-up of his car and fine-tuning of the electrical systems - ensuring the team was belatedly able to complete its testing plans for the week.

Nico Rosberg meanwhile was a solid fourth for Williams as the team used the extra running available to complete its programme for the week.

"The rain affected our programme again today with the circuit only really drying out late morning," test team manager Dickie Stanford said. "Despite the limited track time, we managed to work our way through all the set-up preparations we needed to for the Monza race. Thanks to the guys who have all done a really good job this week, particularly considering the poor weather."

Jenson Button was fifth for Honda while the top six was completed by Tonio Liuzzi for Toro Rosso as the Italian team looked to address the reliability problems suffered in recent events with the STR-02.

"Like all the teams, we have been working on a special Monza aero package," chief engineer, Laurent Mekies said. "In our case this consisted of new front and rear wings as well as a new engine cover. So we spent time doing back-to-back tests to evaluate these elements. In addition, we worked on fine tuning car set-up for the Italian Grand Prix while also working on car systems and gearbox strategy, as well as the standard tyre comparison work."

Ralf Schumacher was seventh for Toyota although, like the remainder of the field, he didn't complete any meaningful running until the afternoon when he was able to concentrate on mechanical set-up for next week's race.

"The test got off to a good start and we ran the first two days virtually without interruption and made strong progress with Jarno," test team manager Gerd Pfeiffer said. "He had solid confidence in the car when he left on Wednesday night and was looking forward to his home Grand Prix.

"Ralf, meanwhile, has been more unfortunate, with the weather wiping out both Thursday and Friday morning. It has been a long test and the team has worked well, but Ralf feels that there is still progress to be made and we will carefully analyse the data before next Friday's first practice day at Monza."

David Coulthard was eighth for Red Bull, while Anthony Davidson completed the nine runners to take to the track for Super Aguri.

"The weather has played an unusual role in what is normally a warm test in Italy," he said. "It has limited our running for the past two days, but this afternoon were able to concentrate on car set-up for the Italian Grand Prix and learnt a few interesting things. We completed some long runs and it was good to drive the low downforce aero package. The car felt well balanced and I think that we are well prepared for the race next week."

Testing times (31 August) - Monza:

1. Pedro de la Rosa McLaren-Mercedes 1min 23.285secs 55 laps
2. Felipe Massa Ferrari-Ferrari 1min 23.289secs 67 laps
3. Robert Kubica BMW Sauber 1min 23.575secs 68 laps
4. Nico Rosberg Williams-Toyota 1min 23.962secs 94 laps
5. Jenson Button Honda-Honda 1min 24.537secs 61 laps
6. Vitantonio Liuzzi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1min 24.760secs 79 laps
7. Ralf Schumacher Toyota-Toyota 1min 24.837secs 39 laps
8. David Coulthard Red Bull-Renault 1min 25.185secs 69 laps
9. Anthony DavidsonSuper Aguri-Honda 1min 25.416secs 104 laps

all times unofficial - courtesy McLaren

Track/weather conditions: Wet to start, clearing during the day: Track temperature, 33.9?C / Ambient temperature, 23.8?C

Comparative lap times:

Italian GP 2006:

Pole position: Kimi Raikkonen McLaren-Mercedes 1min 21.484secsFastest lap: Kimi Raikkonen McLaren-Mercedes 1min 22.559secs

 

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