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The Tyrrell flies at Estoril

THE new Tyrrell-Yamaha 024 was the sensation of testing at Estoril last week, setting competitive times throughout the test. The F1 world is now eagerly awaiting the new Williams-Renault FW18 - due to appear at Estoril on next Monday - and the Ferrari 410T to get a final idea of the relative performance of the teams for the season ahead.

The week at Estoril began with Williams and Sauber running on Monday. On Tuesday, Jacques Villeneuve was by himself in the rain, working on the new Williams gearbox and rear suspension package which will appear on the FW18. He aquaplaned off the track at one point but otherwise had a satisfactory test, setting a best lap of 1m21.50s.

On Wednesday, Tyrrell and Benetton arrived with Mika Salo running the new 024 and Ukyo Katayama testing the interim 023B. On Thursday, Salo set the best time for a 1996 car with a lap of 1m21.66s, while Benetton struggled to get the B196 to run without problems. McLaren arrived on Saturday.

For the moment, however, Tyrrell are the stars of the show and the team is looking forward to racing with a car which looks like being a huge step forward.

"The 024 is easy to handle, easy to drive and the traction is good," reported Salo. "The feeling is as positive as it was at Brands Hatch last week. I am comfortable in the car - and it's going fast."

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