This week in F1...

THERE may be only a week to go until Christmas but the Formula 1 teams are continuing to test at every available opportunity. This week the focus will be split between four tests: Barcelona, Jerez, Paul Ricard and Silverstone.

The biggest test will be at Barcelona where Williams and Benetton will be in action. Although no-one is willing to admit it, we believe that this may be the test at which the new Renault RS8 engine runs for the first time. The two Renault teams will be joined by Ligier, which is expected to run Brazilian Pedro Diniz for the first time. The Ligier test is expected to be largely an engine development program for Mugen Honda, so we can expect to see Olivier Panis is action as well as he has experience with the Japanese V10. Panis is still waiting to find out if he will have a Ligier contract in 1996 and is currently having to put up with monthly renewals of an option with the team.

The Jordan team is down at Jerez for a two-car test on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Martin Brundle will have his first runs for the team and he will probably be joined by new tester Emmanuel Collard.

Sauber and Ferrari will be testing at Paul Ricard from today until Thursday, Sauber once again using only Heinz-Harald Frentzen. The Swiss team will have two cars, but these are to do back-to-back work on electronics as the team is switching from PI systems to TAG Electronics.

McLaren - which tested Bernd Schneider, Dario Franchitti, Jamie Davies and Ralph Firman at Jerez recently - did not test at Barcelona last week as had been planned. Instead the team is due to run at Silverstone this week and Alain Prost is tipped to drive.

Once these tests are over, the F1 men will have a Christmas break - with no testing expected until the first week of January.

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