Alonso Quickest as Monza Test Ends

Championship leader Fernando Alonso got a boost ahead of next week's Italian Grand Prix after finishing the Monza test on top of the times

Alonso Quickest as Monza Test Ends

However, rivals McLaren, who had dominated the first two days of testing, were not on track today after having completed their programme yesterday, and Alonso was over half a second off the pace set by Juan Pablo Montoya on Thursday.

Despite a difficult first part of the day, with Giancarlo Fisichella stopping on track twice with electrical problems, Renault had a productive session and finished on top of the times.

"We had a difficult morning: the circuit was in poor condition, and we were delayed by a number of niggling problems until mid-afternoon," said Renault's chief test engineer Christian Silk.

"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."

Toyota had another poor session with their revised chassis, as Brazilian test driver Ricardo Zonta failed to set a time due to mechanical problems. Zonta, who on Thursday could only cover five untimed laps, today completed just a couple before calling it a day.

His teammate Jarno Trulli had a much more productive session, completing 114 laps with the current TF105 machine on his way to the third fastest time of the day.

"We had a strong, reliable day," he 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."

Trulli was among a few drivers complaining about the poor stability of the current cars using low downforce set-up, with many drivers struggling to make the first chicane after the long Monza straight.

World Champion Michael Schumacher, working on Ferrari's massive tyre testing programme, was fourth fastest, while his teammate Luca Badoer finished down in 11th place as he tested the Monza-spec engine.

BAR's Takuma Sato, fifth quickest, was involved in the only remarkable incident of the day, when his Honda engine exploded in spectacular fashion while running down the straight.

The Williams team wrapped up their programme for the week, working with Nick Heidfeld and test driver Nico Rosberg.

"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," said technical director Sam Michael.

"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."

Brazilian Felipe Massa, who tested for Ferrari earlier this week, was back in action with his Sauber team, replacing teammate Jacques Villeneuve as the Swiss squad completed their preparations 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," said Sauber's test engineer Paul Russell. In the course of the day we had to change the engine as it has reached it's 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."

Minardi completed their two-day programme today, with Christijan Albers doing the driving after taking over from teammate Robert Doornbos. The Dutchman was pleased with his day's work.

"We had a really good day today," said Albers. "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 we 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".

Today's times:

Pos Driver Team-Engine Tyres Time Laps 1. Alonso Renault (M) 1:20:413 90 2. Fisichella Renault (M) 1:21:192 65 3. Trulli Toyota (M) 1:21:364 114 4. M.Schumacher Ferrari (B) 1:21:468 79 5. Sato BAR-Honda (M) 1:21:415 94 6. Coulthard Red Bull-Cosworth (M) 1:21:607 126 7. Heidfeld Williams-BMW (M) 1:21:634 55 8. Davidson BAR-Honda (M) 1:21:646 106 9. Klien Red Bull-Cosworth (M) 1:22:064 75 10. Massa Sauber-Petronas (M) 1:22:105 86 11. Badoer Ferrari (B) 1:22:187 82 12. Rosberg Williams-BMW (M) 1:22:326 61 13. Carroll BAR-Honda (M) 1:22:423 81 14. Karthikeyan Jordan-Toyota (B) 1:22:651 75 15. Albers Minardi-Cosworth (B) 1:24:010 97 16. Zonta Toyota (M) No Time All Timing Unofficial 

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