Nick Heidfeld set the pace on the second day of testing at Monza, as preparations fro the forthcoming Belgian and Italian Grands Prix continued.
On his second day of testing, Heidfeld concentrated on setup work with regards to the upcoming Italian Grand Prix. Working on the low down force configuration for the Monza race the team tried different aerodynamic solutions. Running without major technical problems the German also tried the tyre options for the Grand Prix. On his way to posting a best time of 1:22.621, Heidfeld completed 89 laps.
Second quickest was Nico Rosberg, as Williams continues to make progress, at least in testing. The German completed 100 laps on his way to posting a best time just 0.2587s shy of Heidfeld, experiencing no mechanical problems.
"The team spent the session continuing set-up preparations for the Grand Prix," said Dickie Stanford. "Kazuki Nakajima will join us this evening to take over from Nico tomorrow."
For Heikki Kovalainen, it was a continuation of yesterday's programme; namely, the evaluation of the Monza-spec low-downforce aero package. The Finn also concentrated on longer runs and tried out both the option and prime tyre. Teammate Lewis Hamilton takes over the MP4-23 tomorrow, the final day of testing here.
It was another highly impressive performance from Sebastian Vettel, as the German youngster claimed fourth on the timesheets for Toro Rosso, who had both its drivers in action over the course of the day.
Vettel carried on Wednesday's work this morning, before teammate Sebastien Bourdais took over in the afternoon, prior to running for the whole of the last day tomorrow. Vettel concentrated on Monza race preparation, working on car set-up and carrying out a comparison of the two types of tyre that will be available for the Italian Grand Prix. He also evaluated different brake materials.
As planned, the German had a shorter session as the engine was due to reach its distance limit before the end of the day. Therefore he carried out just two runs to get a feel for the car in its Monza configuration before successfully tackling a long run until the engine limit was reached. Bourdais continues tomorrow, when he will tackle a full day of race preparation.
For the second successive day, Felipe Massa was on duty for Ferrari. The Brazilian continued working on the aerodynamic package specific to this track, as well as fine
tuning the set-up on the car. However, it wasn't all plain sailing for the Valencia winner, an off left the F2008 stranded in the gravel, causing the only red flag of the session.
"We are putting a lot of effort into finding the right settings on the car for this track," said the Brazilian. "On top of that, we are obviously paying careful attention to reliability and the way the car behaves over the Monza kerbs, an aspect of the package that saw us in difficulty last year. I think we are working well, even if we will only have the first real confirmation of this after qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix."
For Renault, Fernando Alonso initially worked on improving the set-up in the morning before attention shifted to testing braking solutions in the afternoon. According to the French team it was another productive day, with the Spaniard completing 95 laps, showing good reliability and gathering lots of valuable information. Alonso remains in the car for the final day of testing tomorrow when the team will complete its programme.
"It was a busy day as we tried lots of different settings on the car to try and improve the overall balance," said Alonso. "Once we were happy with the basic set-up, we did some work on the brakes as this circuit is very demanding in that area. We found out some interesting things and learnt quite a lot about how the car behaves with low downforce. The track conditions were not too bad and it was quite consistent, which is always useful when you are testing."
"It was Fernando's first day of running," added Christian Silk, "and again we had good reliability from the car, which was pleasing because the engineers could get straight down to the programme without any interruptions. We had quite a long test list to get through today, looking at aerodynamic tweaks, brake testing and some set-up work. The results look quite encouraging and have given us good direction for tomorrow."
At Force India, Adrian Sutil's duties followed on from Tonio Liuzzi's programme yesterday as the German pushed on with evaluating set-ups and wing levels, and re-familiarising himself with the demands of the high-speed, low downforce track. The structured programme also included work to optimise the set-up over the high-level kerbs and brake testing.
Once again, the VJM01 ran without major problems, allowing Sutil to complete 92 laps in total and record the 7th fastest time of the 12-man field. Giancarlo Fisichella will complete the testing programme tomorrow.
"Today was quite a good day," said Sutil. "I felt comfortable in the car and we could do a lot of laps and found some items that will help us move forward and prepare for the race here. We had some work to do to find a good set-up that works over the kerbs and in the slow corners without losing time on braking or on the straights, and also trying to get a good setup with the inertia dampers. We made some good steps forward that will also help us at next week's Belgian Grand Prix, so I am happy and feel quite prepared for these coming races."
"Today's programme very much followed on from yesterday's schedule," added Dominic Harlow, "with Adrian evaluating set-up options and wing levels for the Italian Grand Prix. We also tested some development items on the rear suspension, brakes and set-ups for the kerbs, which are quite violent particularly at the Roggia chicane. We completed a lot of laps today, the equivalent running of a race weekend Saturday and Sunday, which will be good preparation for the Italian Grand Prix.'
Mark Webber continued where he left off on Wednesday, with development work on the Monza-specific aerodynamic package and the morning produced plenty of useful data. In the afternoon, the focus switched to evaluating various different set-ups on the car, including running a suspension comparison test. The car ran reliably all day, with the engine completing its permissible maximum mileage. David Coulthard takes over behind the wheel for the final day tomorrow.
"These have been a couple of useful days, preparing not just for the Italian Grand Prix, but also the other races, starting with Spa," said Webber. "The team, including the Renault crew did a good job and we got through a lot of work. In terms of data, I'd say the first day produced more useful information than today, but overall a good test and I'm now looking forward to Belgium."
Jarno Trulli continued preparations for his home Grand Prix and took advantage of another sunny day with good track conditions to work through a busy programme. With the original fast Hockenheim layout no longer a part of the F1 schedule, Monza demands a unique set-up in terms of aerodynamic efficiency for maximum straightline speed, with drivers having to cope with lower levels of downforce than they are used to elsewhere. Aerodynamic changes are a compromise between time gained on the straight and time lost under braking and Jarno took advantage of the full day to establish his personal preferences. Timo Glock concludes the test for the team tomorrow.
"It was a productive day working through the usual things for Monza, where I hope we can maintain the form that we have been showing and which has taken us to fourth place in the Constructors' Championship," said Trulli. "We concentrated mainly on the important things for this track, which are an efficient aerodynamic set-up, good braking feel and the need to feel comfortable over the kerbs. I'm satisfied with progress."
"We carried on with the programme that we started yesterday," added Test Team Manager, Gerd Pfeiffer, "concentrating on set-up and tyre work and doing more experimentation with the brakes and brake balance. That was the main thrust of the schedule, it all went to plan, we didn't run with low fuel and we achieved everything we were aiming at. We changed an engine but that was for homologation purposes and was scheduled."
Honda had Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button sharing the driving responsibilities at the wheel of the RA108. The Brazilian continued his work from the first day of the test as he began the session with a race start simulation exercise before focusing on aerodynamic and tyre evaluations for the forthcoming Italian Grand Prix. He completed a total of 51 laps over the course of the day.
Button took over the car for the afternoon session and continued the aero programme with an evaluation of the different downforce options available for the Monza race weekend. The Englishman completed 42 laps and will continue his running tomorrow for the third and final day of the test.