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Monza day one - Massa remains the pacesetter at Italian test 28 Aug 2008

Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari F2008 Formula One Testing, Monza, Italy, Wednesday 27 August 2008. Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Toro Rosso Formula One Testing, Monza, Italy, Wednesday 27 August 2008. Nick Heidfeld (GER) BMW Sauber Formula One Testing, Monza, Italy, Wednesday 27 August 2008. Jarno Trulli (ITA) Toyota TF108 Formula One Testing, Monza, Italy, Wednesday 27 August 2008. Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing Formula One Testing, Monza, Italy, Wednesday 27 August 2008.

European Grand Prix winner Felipe Massa continued where he’d left off in Valencia on Wednesday, as he topped the timesheets in this week's first day of testing at Monza. Massa took his Ferrari around the Italian circuit in 1m 23.428s to edge McLaren’s Heikki Kovalainen into second.

Massa covered 101 laps over the course of the day, carrying out three long runs in the afternoon. The Brazilian was charged with finding the best set-up for the F2008 and will continue to test on Thursday. Kovalainen was only slightly less productive completing 78 laps, in the McLaren, as he carried out an evaluation of the British team’s Monza-specific low downforce aero package.

The third fastest driver of the day was Williams’ Nico Rosberg, who covered 60 laps in the FW30. Rosberg concentrated on set-up and finished less a tenth down on the two leaders and over two-tenths ahead of Sebastian Vettel for Toro Rosso. Alongside preparations for the Italian Grand Prix, which will be held at the circuit next month, Vettel also tested new front suspension and aero components.

Honda’s Rubens Barrichello, meanwhile, took up fifth slot. Barrichello completed 85 laps in the RA108, focusing on tyre and set-up evaluations. Over two-tenths adrift of the Brazilian was Red Bull’s Mark Webber, who finished the day sixth. Webber assessed the team’s low-downforce aero package and completed 96 trouble-free laps. The Australian will continue to test on Thursday.

Seventh quickest runner was Nick Heidfeld in the BMW Sauber. With a programme focusing on preparations for the forthcoming Belgian and Italian races, Heidfeld carried out set-up, gearbox ratio and brake balance tests, covering 77 laps in the F1.08. Less than two-tenths down on the German was Force India tester Vitantonio Liuzzi in eighth.

“Today we tried to get a good set-up and I think we can be happy with how it went today,” said Liuzzi. “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.”

In comparison, fellow Italian Jarno Trulli endured a more trying time for Toyota, with mechanical issues delaying his start to the day. Once the TF108’s difficulties were solved, however, Trulli managed to complete 92 laps and finished the day ninth.

“It was not the ideal start this morning due to a short delay but when we started running everything went well,” explained Toyota test team manager, Gerd Pfeiffer. “We had to make some mechanical alterations which we have to analyse back in Cologne. In the afternoon we caught up with our programme with the emphasis on suspension data collection and other test items. We were not aiming to set fast lap times but we are in a good position to make further progress with Jarno tomorrow.”

Completing the day’s line-up was Renault’s Nelson Piquet in tenth. Piquet completed 117 laps as he evaluated the team’s Monza aero package and carried out tyre testing. Team mate Fernando Alonso will take over the car on Thursday.

“A solid day's work with good reliability,” explained Christian Silk, Renault's chief test engineer. “We did plenty of laps to give Nelson as much running as possible with the car in low downforce trim. It's always quite a challenge here to set the car up as it is such a unique circuit, but we've collected lots of data from the first day's running, which will give us a good base to work on from here.”

Testing continues at Monza on Thursday.

Unofficial Wednesday times from Monza:
1. Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 1:23.428
2. Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren, 1:23.439
3. Nico Rosberg, Williams, 1:23.461
4. Sebastian Vettel, Toro Rosso, 1:23.691
5. Rubens Barrichello, Honda, 1:23.827
6. Mark Webber, Red Bull, 1:24.005
7. Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber, 1:24.075
8. Vitantonio Liuzzi, Force India, 1:24.239
9. Jarno Trulli, Toyota, 1:24.510
10. Nelson Piquet, Renault, 1:24.540