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Monza day three - Honda back on track 16 Jun 2006

Jenson Button (GBR) Honda RA106. Formula One Testing, Monza, Italy, Day Three, Thursday, 15 June 2006. World © Hartley/Sutton

Honda’s Jenson Button put his recent disappointments behind him at Monza on Thursday as he set the fastest time of the week in testing. Button’s time of 1m 22.917s around the Italian Grand Prix circuit compared favourably with Kimi Raikkonen’s fastest 2005 race lap of 1m 21.504s.

Button was working alongside team mate Barrichello (fifth fastest), both looking at aero development, chassis settings and a tyre casing programme in preparation for the upcoming Canadian and US races. Barrichello’s programme suffered a slight delay when a driveline problem stopped his car.

"This week's test has gone well and I was able to complete over 250 laps in two days, which is obviously very good,” commented Button. “The Montreal aero package work seemed to be positive and the results of our tyre programme were quite clear. We also worked through a number of other development items with some good results, so it was just a shame we had the engine failure yesterday. All in all a good test for us though."

BMW Sauber had another positive day, with Robert Kubica and Jacques Villeneuve third and fourth fastest respectively. While Villeneuve concentrated on Montreal set-up, Kubica focussed on preparations for September’s Italian Grand Prix, the Polish driver getting his first taste of a Formula One car in such low-downforce trim.

Fresh from news of his renewed Renault contract, Giancarlo Fisichella was fourth quickest, with third driver Heikki Kovalainen seventh. “We had a very satisfying final day of testing with some more set up works and tyre development for the preparation for the next races,” said Christian Silk, chief test engineer. “Heikki continued his tyre testing while Giancarlo also worked on brake testing this afternoon for Canada which will be very demanding in this area.”

Mark Webber returned to the cockpit for Williams, the Australian setting the day’s sixth best time as he partnered team mate Nico Rosberg (ninth). “Mark continued the testing of some new gearbox parts and also tried some alternative brake materials,” said Mike Condliffe, test team manager. “To conclude his day, Mark completed a tyre compound evaluation for the Canadian GP. Nico had a varied test today doing some set-up work, engine development and some construction and compound testing for Bridgestone.”

For Toyota, Jarno Trulli was eighth quickest and Ralf Schumacher 10th. "For Montreal it is important to have good stability under heavy braking, as well as good traction, so we have been doing brake work as well as some suspension experimentation with different cambers and so forth,” explained chief test engineer Gerd Pfeiffer.

“Generally it has been successful but we did lose a bit of time on Ralf's car with an engine misfire that took some time to locate. This was a newly built-up car and at the end of the day we solved the problem and made progress. There has also been a full tyre programme concentrating on both Montreal and Indianapolis."

Red Bull completed their programme with David Coulthard and Robert Doorbos, the latter back in the cockpit after missing much of Wednesday’s session with food poisoning. The team evaluated low drag configuration front and rear wings and various other aerodynamic tweaks, which had produced encouraging data in the wind tunnel.

"Although it is hard to quantify the results of aerodynamic changes, the results seemed good," said chief test engineer, Ian Morgan. "Although we lost time with one car on the first day, when Robert was unwell, this was a useful test. We also worked on tyre choice for Indianapolis and looked at weight distribution as well as trying other chassis modifications."

Splitting the two Red Bulls in 12th place was the sister Toro Rosso car of Vitantonio Liuzzi. "Both the Canadian and US races require similar low levels of downforce and it was the first time this year that we have run our car in its latest low drag configuration," said chief engineer, Laurent Mekies.

“These have been a useful two days, as the temperatures have been high, which is what we can expect at the next two races. Apart from the aero work, we also evaluated tyres for the next two grands prix, particularly Indianapolis and the fact that Monza is quite tough on brakes has also been useful, given that Montreal is the hardest track of the year from this perspective."

The next major multi-team test takes place at Jerez in Spain in the week following the US Grand Prix at Indianapolis on July 2.

Unofficial Thursday times from Monza:
1. Jenson Button, Honda (Michelin), 1:22.917
2. Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber (Michelin), 1:23.318
3. Jacques Villeneuve, BMW Sauber (Michelin), 1:23.650
4. Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault (Michelin), 1:23.790
5. Rubens Barrichello, Honda (Michelin), 1:23.868
6. Mark Webber, Williams (Bridgestone), 1:23.916
7. Heikki Kovalainen, Renault (Michelin), 1:23.940
8. Jarno Trulli, Toyota (Bridgestone), 1:24.040
9. Nico Rosberg, Williams (Bridgestone), 1:24.169
10. Ralf Schumacher, Toyota (Bridgestone), 1:24.310
11. David Coulthard, Red Bull (Michelin), 1:24.423
12. Vitantonio Liuzzi, Toro Rosso (Michelin), 1:24.670
13. Robert Doornbos, Red Bull (Michelin), 1:25.080