Monza plays host to pre-Italy testing 29 Aug 2006
With Turkey having bid farewell to the Formula One fraternity for another year, the teams head back to the test track this week. With the summer test ban now lifted, all 11 are scheduled to arrive in Monza to begin preparations for the Italian Grand Prix, which takes place at the track in just under two weeks time.
The majority of teams begin three-day programmes on Tuesday, with Renault among them, the world champions keen to re-optimise the performance of their R26 following the removal of the much-talked-about mass damper system. The teams new D-spec engine - scheduled to debut in Monza - will also be evaluated, as will their aerodynamic package for the Italian race. Fernando Alonso, Giancarlo Fisichella and Heikki Kovalainen will each test for two days.
Renault have said that tyres may well decide the 2006 championship. They and the other Michelin teams will be working closely with the French supplier to find the optimum choices for Monza and for the season's remaining rounds.
"We have been working flat out since the start of the year, but over the last races we have looked at the whole picture again and come up with plenty of new answers, explained Michelins Formula One director Nick Shorrock. We are testing compounds, lots of constructions and looking at how our partner teams exploit the tyres.
Bridgestone and Ferrari are also expected to begin work on Tuesday, with veteran tester Luca Badoer and Turkish race winner Felipe Massa in attendance. Michael Schumacher is scheduled to test on Wednesday and Thursday.
McLaren kick off their three days with Gary Paffett and Pedro de la Rosa at the wheel of the MP4-21. Kimi Raikkonen, who jolted his back during a high-speed crash in Istanbul on Sunday, is expected to be fit enough to attend the test and is due to run on Wednesday and Thursday.
BMW Saubers new Friday star Sebastian Vettel will be back in the cockpit of the F1.06 following his impressive performance in Turkey. The German teenager, who is expected to continue as the teams third driver at the Italian Grand Prix, will share driving duties with race regulars Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica.
Other anticipated Tuesday runners include Toyota, Super Aguri, Honda, Midland, Williams and Toro Rosso. As usual, Toyota will be fielding all four of their drivers, with Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli sharing the workload with Ricardo Zonta and Olivier Panis over the course of the teams three-day programme.
And after Christijan Albers strong showing in the Turkish Grand Prix (running as high as ninth place), the Toyota-powered Midland squad are set to evaluate further developments for the M16. We are testing more new parts in Monza, so hopefully we will continue to gain ground on the teams ahead and make the most of the remaining races," said team boss Colin Kolles.
In light of recent disappointments, Williams will be out to make the most of available track time, with technical director Sam Michael having promised improvements to the car for Monza.
Check back throughout the week for daily updates on the teams progress. Note - all schedules are provisional and subject to change.