Spaniard Pedro de la Rosa boosted the Jaguar team's confidence ahead of next week's Italian Grand Prix by setting the quickest time of the session on the third day of testing at the Monza circuit.
De la Rosa, whose teammate Eddie Irvine last weekend scored the team's first point of the year since Australia, topped the timesheets ahead of McLaren's David Coulthard, as the sun finally shone during the day and allowed the ten teams present at the Italian circuit to continue with their progress after two sessions hampered by heavy rain.
Williams drivers Antonio Pizzonia and Juan Pablo Montoya were third and fourth quickest respectively, both men taking over from test driver Marc Gene and German Ralf Schumacher. The Williams duo finished ahead of Toyota's Allan McNish, who was surprisingly quick at the wheel of the first of the Toyotas. Teammate Mika Salo joined the test today, but was more than a second off McNish's pace.
"We had a slightly difficult morning session, but after the lunch break we made some positive changes on the car working mainly on the set-up of the car, verifying some mechanical adjustments," said the Scot. "Overall I can feel some improvements in the car compared to the last test we had here in July, and I am looking forward to another productive day tomorrow."
Brazilian Rubens Barrichello also joined the test today, replacing World Champion Michael Schumacher, as the Ferrari team resumed their tyre testing programme for Bridgestone as well as working on the set-up of the dominant F2002. Barrichello finished sixth, ahead of both British American Racing drivers Jacques Villeneuve and Olivier Panis.
Italian Giancarlo Fisichella replaced teammate Takuma Sato at the wheel of the only Jordan on track during the test, but the Roman driver endured a troubled day, his Honda engine blowing up early in the morning. It was another of the many failures of the Japanese engine since last weekend in Belgium, where between the Jordan and BAR teams Honda lost five units.
Renault continued working with both their drivers Jarno Trulli and Jenson Button. The Italian, 12th quickest, concentrated on set-ups for the Monza race as well as conducting tyre compound evaluation for Michelin, while the Briton ran a race simulation during the morning session and a tyre test in the afternoon session.
"Jenson ran a race simulation this morning, although his run was curtailed just short of the end by a minor gearbox problem. As for Jarno, he made progress with set-ups for the race," said Mike Gascoyne, Renault's technical director.
Brazilian Felipe Massa was in charge of the testing duties for the Sauber team, the young Brazilian completing a race distance with the HANS (Head and Neck Support) system, which will be compulsory next year. Massa was 13th fastest, and he revealed that the team are planning to use the HANS during the Italian Grand Prix.
"I really like driving at Monza," said Massa. "It's a very fast track and today I regularly reached speeds of 350 kilometers an hour. This is an important test for Team Sauber Petronas and I am pleased with the car's reliability today.
"I completed a full race distance during which I was wearing the HANS system. I am very happy with the way we have adjusted it now to suit me and felt completely comfortable with it. The team plans to race it for both of us this weekend."
Australian Mark Webber was the slowest man today with the Minardi, although only three tenths of a second behind Button.
Testing at Monza comes to an end tomorrow.
Pos Driver Team-Engine Tyres Time Laps 1. De la Rosa Jaguar-Cosworth (M) 1:22.748 57 2. Coulthard McLaren-Mercedes (M) 1:22.870 92 3. Pizzonia Williams-BMW (M) 1:23.174 42 4. Montoya Williams-BMW (M) 1:23.497 35 5. McNish Toyota (M) 1:23.888 55 6. Barrichello Ferrari (B) 1:23.890 78 7. Villeneuve BAR-Honda (B) 1:24.351 67 8. Panis BAR-Honda (B) 1:24.685 27 9. Irvine Jaguar-Cosworth (M) 1:25.282 10 10. Salo Toyota (M) 1:25.329 41 11. Fisichella Jordan-Honda (B) 1:25.362 53 12. Trulli Renault (M) 1:25.383 48 13. Massa Sauber-Petronas (B) 1:25.477 79 14. Button Renault (M) 1:25.708 72 15. Webber Minardi-Asiatech (M) 1:26.013 66 All Timing Unofficial
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