Massa on Top as Sauber and Minardi Test at Imola

Brazilian Felipe Massa topped the times at Imola today, where Sauber and Minardi began their final testing session before the 2005 season begins in Australia, in less than two weeks.

Massa on Top as Sauber and Minardi Test at Imola

Brazilian Felipe Massa topped the times at Imola today, where Sauber and Minardi began their final testing session before the 2005 season begins in Australia, in less than two weeks.

On the first day of the three-day session, Sauber's Massa edged out his teammate, former World Champion Jacques Villeneuve, by less than three tenths of a second. The Brazilian, however, ran almost twice more laps than the Canadian: 106 laps to 63.

"Today Felipe ran an aerodynamic programme and compared different front wings," commented Jacky Eeckelaert, Sauber's Chief Race Engineer. "Part of this was the assessment of a newly developed front wing being a result of our wind tunnel work. Beside this, Felipe tested Michelin tyres for the Malaysian Grand Prix. Jacques worked on further set-up improvements and thereby concentrated on a new traction control software.

"Tomorrow Felipe will test tyres for the Grand Prix in Imola in April and will carry out some set-up work too. For Jacques we have scheduled a simulation of a race weekend."

Among the Minardi duo, newly signed Patrick Friesacher edged out teammate Christijan Albers by a mere one tenth of a second.

"I'm very happy with the way things have gone today, particularly since this is only my second time in a Minardi since the Misano test," Friesacher commented. "I gained more confidence in the car with each lap. We did a long run this afternoon, aimed at tyre evaluation, and apart from getting some good information, it also gave me a chance to test my fitness, which I'm pleased to say, seems good. We finished the day without any problems, and I have to thank the whole team for their efforts â€" the atmosphere is fantastic. I can't wait to get to Melbourne."

"Overall, I think we have had a good test today, and I feel like I have done a good job," Albers said. "The morning session was particularly positive, as I was able to work with the engineers to develop some aerodynamic approaches the team is looking at. We have not had any technical problems today, and I think this a good sign for our last test before Melbourne."

Today's times:

Pos Driver Team Time Laps 1. Massa Sauber-Petronas (M) 1:23.485 106 2. Villeneuve Sauber-Petronas (M) 1:23.777 63 3. Friesacher Minardi-Cosworth (B) 1:25.883 59 4. Albers Minardi-Cosworth (B) 1:25.983 47 All Timing Unofficial

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