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Williams stays ahead

THE Rothmans Williams Renault team continued its domination of the 1996 season in testing last week at Barcelona, where Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve were first and second fastest after the four-day testing. The pair completed an impressive 246 laps between them, Hill - who did the second two days of the test - lapping the track in 1m21.50s and Villeneuve, who did the first two days, 1m21.79s.

Third fastest was Michael Schumacher in his Ferrari, who did three days of running, recording a best of 1m22.06s despite two engine failures on the first day of the test. Schumacher completed only 89 laps in the three days.

The test was held in mainly good weather - although there was a heavy thunderstorm on the second morning - and was largely dedicated to Goodyear and Bridgestone tire testing.

Jordan had two cars in action for Rubens Barrichello and the team's test driver Gianni Morbidelli. Barrichello completed 116 laps with a best of 1m22.68s, and Morbidelli did 60 laps with a fastest lap of 1m24.23s.

The TWR Arrows team continued its heavy testing workload for Bridgestone with three days of running - Jos Verstappen doing the first two before handing over to Ricardo Rosset. Verstappen completed 144 laps with a best of 1m23.97s while Rosset did just 30 laps to record a 1m26.64s.

The only other team present was Ligier, with Olivier Panis doing the first three days of the test. The Monaco GP winner completed a total of 96 laps with a best of 1m24.12s.

Sauber was busy testing at the new A1 Ring at Zeltweg and at Mugello in Italy. The Austrian test - conducted by the Sauber race team on its way home from Budapest - saw Austrian youngster Alexander Wurz become the first man to lap the circuit in an F1 car. The following day Johnny Herbert took over but suffered an engine failure after just a couple of laps. Once the engine had been changed Herbert did 34 laps. He then handed over his car to ex-racers turned TV commentators John Watson, Jonathan Palmer and Marc Surer before the team packed up on Tuesday evening. The same day Sauber's test team started work at Mugello with Frentzen doing two days of testing before handing over to the team's test driver Noberto Fontana.

Neither Benetton nor McLaren tested last week. Benetton is due to run at Silverstone this week but McLaren does not have any testing planned before the Belgian GP.

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