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Teams begin testing at Monza

ALL the Formula One teams congregated at Monza to begin testing for the coming Italian Grand Prix on Tuesday.

The all-important test will see the teams aim to optimize their cars for the next race, which will see even lower downforce set-ups than seen in the last race at Spa.

Jos Verstappen topped the times in his Arrows, followed by Sauber's Pedro Diniz and Ferrari test-driver Luca Badoer as most teams concentrated on shaking down their chassis after last weekend's race.

Several teams ran with their test-drivers, including Darren Manning and Patrick Lemarie doing all the running for British American Racing, Olivier Panis joining David Coulthard at McLaren, and Williams running Bruno Junqueira.

"He did around 20 laps, and concentrated on shaking the chassis down," said Williams spokesman Nav Sidhu of Junqueira. The test drivers will disappear on Wednesday as the race drivers move in.

Panis and Verstappen were testing 2001-spec Bridgestone tires, but both suffered engine problems during the day. Verstappen nearly hit the tire wall on the main straight after his engine blow-up.

Manning ran a qualifying-spec Honda engine in his BAR, but his test was hampered not by engine problems but by a careless safety car when it reversed into the nose of his BAR in the pit-lane.

With a full attendance, the F1 teams are clearly all keen on taking the opportunity of running their cars to prepare for the Italian Grand Prix. "We are testing low downforce," said Sidhu. "But the gearbox and brakes are also two key components."

The circuit is also important because the teams can also use it to prepare for the coming United States Grand Prix. "It's the only testing circuit which, although it doesn't share a lot with Indy, has some similarities," explained Sidhu. Testing continues at Monza tomorrow.

Times after Tuesday testing at Monza:

POS DRIVER ENTRANT TIME
Jos Verstappen Arrows 1:25.454
Pedro Diniz Sauber 1:26.204
Luca Badoer Ferrari 1:26.330
Darren Manning BAR 1:26.681
David Coulthard McLaren 1:26.721
Giancarlo Fisichella Benetton 1:26.948
Heinz-Harald Frentzen Jordan 1:27.092
Olivier Panis McLaren 1:27.189
Mika Salo Sauber 1:27.930
10  Patrick Lemarie BAR 1:28.007
11  Johnny Herbert Jaguar 1:28.036
12  Bruno Junqueira Williams 1:28.710
13  Nick Heidfeld Prost 1:28.801
14  Marc Gene Minardi 1:29.457

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