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Alonso goes out on a high at Monza 06 Sep 2004

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Renault R24. Formula One Testing, Monza, Italy, 2 September 2004. World © McNeil/Sutton

Renault’s Fernando Alonso set the pace on the final day's testing ahead of the Italian Grand Prix. Alonso, who put in over 100 laps, was fractionally faster than BAR's Jenson Button and Williams’ Antonio Pizzonia as the three-day session concluded on Friday.

Alonso and team mate Trulli, who finished fifth in the timesheets, concentrated on set-up work in preparation for next weekend’s race, with both men reporting significant improvements to the handling of the R24.

“They have achieved a balance they are reasonably happy with, and this will provide a good starting point for them next Friday in free practice for the race,” reported Christian Silk, Renault’s Chief Test Engineer. “Overall, we have had a successful week, making our tyre choice for the Grand Prix and without experiencing any mechanical problems with the engines at all, which is an extremely encouraging sign."

At BAR, Button completed a tyre evaluation programme in the morning, before switching to an aero programme in the afternoon. The team’s third driver, Anthony Davidson, was sixth fastest as he evaluated suspension changes and different tyre variations.

"Overall we've had a very good three-day test in Monza, covering a total of 3492 kilometres and 601 laps,” explained Andrew Alsworth, BAR’s Test Team Manager. “We've managed to run through the complete test programme which is always very satisfying and everyone has worked very hard to achieve this.

“Both Jenson & Takuma (Sato) have chosen their preferred tyre option for the Italian Grand Prix next weekend and worked on some early race set-ups. We have also successfully completed Honda's target mileage for the Monza race engines."

Pizzonia, whose Thursday time remained the fastest of the week, and team mate Juan Pablo Montoya were third and fourth respectively, as the BMW-powered team concluded a programme of set-up, aero, brake and tyre work. Between them over the three days the two drivers totalled 437 laps of Monza, or 2,532 kilometres.

“We worked on ensuring that we have a solid brake and engine cooling package for next weekend's Grand Prix, while we also evaluated different mechanical and aerodynamic set-ups,” explained Sam Michael, Williams’ Technical Director.

“Michelin have produced some new compounds for the Grand Prix at Monza to give us a competitive tyre for the race. Following the tyre problem that Juan Pablo had at Spa - which appears to have been caused by external influences rather than any specific design problem - we tested some tyres at Monza with some changes. The tyres are similar to what we used at Spa as these changes are just precautionary rather than a requirement for safety.”

Kimi Raikkonen and Alexander Wurz finished seventh and eighth, as they concluded McLaren’s Monza preparations, immediately ahead of the sole Ferrari of Luca Badoer. The Italian, who switched from Fiorano after a two-day programme on Wednesday and Thursday, focussed on tyre development and set-up, covering just under 100 laps.

For the third day running Christian Klien was the leading Jaguar driver, going tenth to team mate Mark Webber’s 13th, while at Sauber Felipe Massa took over from Giancarlo Fisichella, going 11th as he wrapped up the Swiss team’s programme.

"We used our final test day to undertake data verification with Felipe which also included further long-runs in conjunction with our Bridgestone tyre work,” said Giampaolo Dall'Ara, Sauber race engineer.

“We were able to make our decisions concerning brakes and tyres for our two drivers for Monza and also finalised the assessment of our low-downforce package. We could complete our planned programme without major technical problems and made some good progress in race preparation during those three days."

The Toyota’s of Oliver Panis and Ricardo Zonta were 12th and 14th respectively, with both the Frenchman and the Brazilian recording their best times of the week, despite Panis suffering an off-track excursion in the afternoon.

“Unfortunately late on Friday I was approaching the second chicane when I went off after suffering a depressurization of my left rear tyre, probably caused by a problem with the valve,” he explained. “It was an abrupt end to the test but thankfully I am completely okay.”

Jordan’s Nick Heidfeld completed the times, finishing over a second behind Zonta, as he took over from test driver Timo Glock.

Unofficial Friday times from Monza:
1. Fernando Alonso, Renault (Michelin), 1:20.611
2. Jenson Button, BAR (Michelin), 1:20.690
3. Antonio Pizzonia, Williams (Michelin), 1:20.770
4. Juan Pablo Montoya, Williams (Michelin), 1:20.814
5. Jarno Trulli, Renault (Michelin), 1.21.035
6. Anthony Davidson, BAR (Michelin), 1:21.127
7. Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (Michelin), 1:21.142
8. Alexander Wurz, McLaren (Michelin), 1:21.228
9. Luca Badoer, Ferrari (Bridgestone), 1:21.243
10. Christian Klien, Jaguar (Michelin), 1:21.569
11. Felipe Massa, Sauber (Bridgestone), 1:21.630
12. Olivier Panis, Toyota (Michelin), 1:21.996
13. Mark Webber, Jaguar (Michelin), 1:22.113
14. Ricardo Zonta, Toyota (Michelin), 1:22.271
15. Nick Heidfeld, Jordan (Bridgestone), 1:23.503