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Monza day two - Heidfeld the Thursday leader 28 Aug 2008

Nick Heidfeld (GER) BMW Sauber Formula One Testing, Monza, Italy, Thursday 28 August 2008.  Rubens Barrichello (BRA) Honda RA108 Formula One Testing, Monza, Italy, Thursday 28 August 2008. Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR03 Formula One Testing, Monza, Italy, Thursday 28 August 2008. Adrian Sutil (GER) Force India F1 Formula One Testing, Monza, Italy, Thursday 28 August 2008. Geoff Willis (GBR) Red Bull Racing Technical Director and Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing Formula One Testing, Monza, Italy, Thursday 28 August 2008.

Nick Heidfeld shrugged off speculation over his BMW Sauber future on Thursday to set the fastest time in this week’s second day of testing at Monza. Heidfeld’s best time of 1m 22.621s around the Italian Grand Prix circuit put him two-tenths clear of Williams’s Nico Rosberg.

Heidfeld covered 89 laps in the F1.08, as he completed set-up work for the forthcoming Italian Grand Prix. Running with a low-downforce configuration, the German evaluated a variety of different aero solutions and carried out some tyre testing. He will hand over the car to team mate Robert Kubica on Friday.

Fellow German Rosberg was also charged with Italian race preparations. He covered 100 laps in the FW30, which will driven by team mate Kazuki Nakajima on Friday. Third fastest was McLaren’s Heikki Kovalainen, who completed 92 laps for the British team. Kovalainen carried out several long runs over the course of the day and will be replaced by Lewis Hamilton on Friday.

Sebastian Vettel’s strong form of late continued for Toro Rosso. Vettel, who took charge of the STR03 for the morning session before handing over to team mate Sebastien Bourdais in the afternoon, finished the day in fourth. Vettel covered 47 laps, while Bourdais completed 44 on his way to tenth in the times.

Wednesday’s fastest runner, Felipe Massa, took up fifth slot for Ferrari. Massa continued work on the team’s Monza-specific aerodynamic package and covered 86 laps. Team mate Kimi Raikkonen will take over the F2008 on Friday.

"We are putting a lot of effort into finding the right settings on the car for this track,” commented 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."

Sixth fastest was Renault’s Fernando Alonso, who completed 95 laps in the R28. Alonso focused on set-up in the morning before switching his attentions to brake testing in the afternoon. He will continue on Friday.

"It was a busy day as we tried lots of different settings on the car to try and improve the overall balance,” said the Spaniard. “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."

With Adrian Sutil finishing in seventh, Force India continued to impress. Sutil evaluated set-up and wing levels, as well as taking time to re-acquaint himself with the Italian track. He covered 92 laps and will hand over the VJM01 to veteran team mate Giancarlo Fisichella on Friday.

“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,” said Sutil. “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.”

Eighth quickest was Mark Webber for Red Bull. Webber continued where he left off on Wednesday and had a busy day, covering 103 laps.

“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 the Australian. “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.”

Red Bull's immediate championship rivals Toyota, meanwhile, fielded Jarno Trulli, who finished ninth. Trulli took advantage of the settled conditions to cover 77 laps in the TF108 as he established his ideal set-up for the Italian race.

"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,” he said. “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."

Completing Thursday’s line-up were the two Hondas of Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button, who finished 11th and 12th respectively. Barrichello took charge of the sole RA108 in the morning, carrying out a race start simulations and tyre and set-up evaluations. Button took over after lunch to evaluate different downforce options.

Testing concludes at Monza on Friday.

Unofficial Thursday times from Monza:
1. Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber, 1:22.621
2. Nico Rosberg, Williams, 1: 22.879
3. Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren, 1: 23.341
4. Sebastian Vettel, Toro Rosso, 1: 23.424
5. Felipe Massa, Ferrari, 1: 23.445
6. Fernando Alonso, Renault, 1:23.606
7. Adrian Sutil, Force India, 1:23.823
8. Mark Webber, Red Bull, 1:23.936
9. Jarno Trulli, Toyota, 1:24.158
10. Sebastien Bourdais, Toro Rosso, 1:24.311
11. Rubens Barrichello, Honda, 1:24.695
12. Jenson Button, Honda, 1:25.049