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...action at Jerez

WILLIAMS, Benetton and Sauber will all be in action this week at Jerez de la Frontera in southern Spain, looking for good weather as England continues to be wet and cold.

The Swiss team will start work on Tuesday and complete five whole days of testing, with Heinz-Harald Frentzen doing the first three and Johnny Herbert taking over for the final two. The team is hoping that Cosworth will be able to come up with some modifications to the new Zetec-R V10 engine which will close up the horsepower gap to the leading engines. The team is unwilling to say just how much horsepower is missing at the moment, but estimates are in the region of 50bhp. This has caught out Cosworth which was confident of being able to produce a competitive engine straight out of the box. The Sauber chassis looks to be good but the drivers have had to run with tiny wings to reduce drag on the straights and so have been struggling in the corners. Morale in the team is currently low because in three races there have been no points-scoring finishes. This is particularly bad news for Sauber because it is looking for a new engine for next year as Ford has already announced that it is to support the new Stewart Grand Prix instead.

Williams will have two cars for four days, beginning on Wednesday, with both Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve continuing their development programs with the intention of keeping ahead of the opposition. In the races to come the team has identified several areas where improvements can be made and will be following up these possibilities.

The team will also be able to keep an eye on the Benetton team which is due to have two cars for four days for Gerhard╩Berger and Jean Alesi. Benetton is continuing to search for a way of improving the airflow into the engine which is currently causing a significant loss of horsepower. The team has already tried a variety of airbox shapes in the tests after the Australian GP but none of these have been very successful. If the team concludes that they need to build new chassis with structural changes - currently being looked at in the windtunnel - this will delay the Benetton program for at least the next three races, as the Europe/San Marino/Monaco races follow one another in close order. It could be, therefore, that Benetton will have to wait until Barcelona at the start of June before getting a more competitive package.

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