ad

...Barcelona testing

MICHAEL SCHUMACHER set the fastest time in the week of testing in Barcelona, which followed the Spanish Grand Prix. The Benetton-Renault driver lapped the track in 1m20.980s, half a second faster than his pole the previous week of 1m21.452s. But Schumacher is still under pressure from Damon Hill's Williams-Renault which ended the Barcelona test with a best time of 1m21.020s, which was 1.3s faster than Damon had managed during qualifying for the Spanish race.

If Benetton had opened up a slight gap in the race at Barcelona, Williams appeared to have closed it up again by the end of the week.

Hill shared the test with Williams's impressive young test driver Jean-Christophe Boullion, who set a best lap on Wednesday of 1m21.960s, on a day when Schumacher could do no better than 1m21.910s. In fact, the Benetton team spent the whole of Wednesday afternoon trying to increase the gap to Boullion - without success.

Shortly before setting his fastest lap, Boullion had a big off into a sandtrap as a result of an hydraulic pump failure.

The young Frenchman's best lap was eventually beaten by Benetton's Johnny Herbert, who overcame a major engine blow-up on Thursday to set a best lap of 1m21.555s on the final day of the test, when only Williams, Benetton and McLaren remained.

McLaren had both Mika Hakkinen and Mark Blundell in action all week, the Finn setting a best of 1m23.900s and the Englishman 1m24.290s.

Of the rest, Olivier Panis set the fastest time in his Ligier with a lap of 1m25.31s, followed by Sauber's Heinz-Harald Frentzen (1m25.530), Ligier's Martin Brundle (1m25.700s) and Karl Wendlinger - in what may turn out to be his last drive for SauberĘ- 1m27.45s.

Ferrari chose to go it alone at Paul Ricard in the south of France, but the weather was dreadful and the test - to try out the latest high-revving version of the V12 engine in race conditions - was badly disrupted by rain and even fog. The team then headed back to base to test at the end of the week at its Fiorano test track, where Alesi was joined by Minardi's Luca Badoer, who was trying out some new aerodynamic ideas for Monaco.

Tyrrell went north in France to the extremely tight and twisty circuit of Croix-en-Ternois, near Arras, which is often used by teams preparing for Monaco. Ukyo Katayama and Mika Salo spent two days in action before returning to Britain. On Saturday Benetton's race team, Tyrrell, Jordan and Arrows were all busy on the south circuit at Silverstone before the cars were packed up yesterday and sent off to Monaco, where they should start to arrive this evening.

Follow grandprixdotcom on Twitter

Print News Story