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Massa quickest on Day 1 at Monza

NEWS STORY
27/08/2008

Just seventy-two hours after scoring a convincing win in Valencia, Felipe Massa was setting the pace at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza, as preparations for the Italian Grand Prix got underway.

Like most teams, the Maranello outfit ran a specific aero package on a day which saw the Brazilian lap the 3.599 mile circuit at over 155 mph. The Valencia winner concentrated on defining the best set-up for the F2008 and, in the afternoon, carried out three long runs. He completed a total of 101 laps without any technical problems arising.

Second quickest was Heikki Kovalainen as McLaren, also running a Monza-spec low-downforce aero package, focussed on braking and set-up work. The Finn, who completed 78 laps, posted a best time just 0.011s off Massa's pace.

Third quickest, 0.033s off the pace, was Williams Nico Rosberg. "It's been a productive day," said Test Team Manager, Dickie Stanford, "with the team concentrating on set-up evaluations ahead of the race here in a couple of weekend's time. We experienced no major problems and Nico will continue testing tomorrow."

Fourth quickest, and continuing to show impressive progress, was Sebastian Vettel in the Toro Rosso. In addition to a low-downforce package, Vettel also evaluated a new front suspension and some aero components not specifically aimed at Monza. Running on just one type of Bridgestone tyre all day, the car ran trouble free, completing a higher mileage than planned, including a long run, equivalent to over half a race distance, with the German's quickest lap posted towards the end of this run.

Rubens Barrichello began Honda's programme as he focused on an evaluation of the downforce levels and set-up required for the races at Spa and Monza, alongside a tyre programme with Bridgestone's medium and hard compounds. The Brazilian ended the day fifth on the timesheets, 0.399s off Massa's pace.

Red Bull, which continues playing 'catch-up' with its sister team, had Mark Webber on duty, the Australian evaluating the team's Monza aero package. Other pre-Italian Grand Prix work involved chassis tuning to suit the aero package as Webber also worked through a tyre comparison programme. He completed 96 laps, which was more than originally planned. Having successfully established a good base line, tomorrow's programme, still with Webber driving, moves on to evaluating some new set-ups on the RB4.


In the morning, Nick Heidfeld worked on the mechanical setup of the F1.08. Preparing for the upcoming Belgian and Italian Grands Prix he worked on suspension setup, gearbox ratios and brake balance. In the afternoon the engineers switched their focus to aerodynamics. In perfect weather conditions the team made good progress trying various solutions for the high speed and low downforce races ahead.

Test and reserve driver Tonio Liuzzi was on duty for Force India as the Silverstone-based outfit spent much of today conducting set-up and aero work unique to this circuit. The Italian completed 99 laps in total, with a best lap time of 1min 24.239, the 8th quickest time of the day. Adrian Sutil will take over for tomorrow's running, with Giancarlo Fisichella bringing the test to a close on Friday.

"Today we tried to get a good set-up for the rest of the test and the race in just a couple of weeks time," said the Italian, "and I think we can be happy with how it went today. This morning the grip levels were very low and it was quite difficult with the tyres we had, and especially as I had not been in the car for some time for a real test. We did make some good progress though, almost 100 laps with no problems and we are not too far from the others in the times either."

"With the aero configuration for Monza being dramatically different to any other track we visit on the calendar, today's programme focussed on evaluating different set-ups and wing levels specifically for the Italian Grand Prix," added Dominic Harlow, the team's Chief Race and Test Engineer. "We also conducted some work on engine mapping, brake testing and tyre evaluation. Grip levels are low at the moment, and the tyres we are using are very hard for the conditions, but everyone has the same issue so we will work over the next days to optimise the performance. Overall, we had a good day and are pretty happy with the information we gathered, it's been a good start to the test."

Jarno Trulli began Toyota's preparation for the Italian Grand Prix, though test got off to a tricky start due to a couple of mechanical issues which required further investigation. The Italian then concentrated on establishing a baseline set-up with the revised Monza-spec TF108. Braking performance and stability is also key, with three chicanes breaking up a lap that features 70% full throttle running, so Trulli completed plenty of running to get as much information as possible about the TF108's behaviour, particularly focusing on the brakes and suspension.

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