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

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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