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Action in Barcelona

WILLIAMS, Tyrrell and Ligier were all in action in Barcelona last week - but the three-day test was dominated by Heinz-Harald Frentzen in a Williams-Renault FW18C - the designation of the latest version of the 1996 car, fitted with the entire 1997 rear end. Frentzen completed 130 laps of the track and set a best time of 1m19.31s which was considerably quicker than Olivier Panis in the new Ligier-Mugen Honda JS43. Ligier had come directly from Magny-Cours where poor weather had disrupted the first tests of the new car.

Also in action was Tyrrell which ran Jos Verstappen, Mika Salo and Toranosuke Takagi in the new 025. Verstappen was fastest with a best lap of 1m22.58s. The team enjoyed three days of trouble-free running, a luxury after last year's disasters with Yamaha. Tyrrell is now building up a second 025 chassis and both cars should be running at Jerez on Thursday.

Williams stayed on at Barcelona and ran the new FW19 for the first time over the weekend. The team was due to stay in Barcelona until tomorrow (Tuesday).

Elsewhere Minardi has been shaking down its first M197 at Mugello prior to its official launch on Tuesday at Monza, while Jordan is due to start development work of the new 197 at Silverstone today.

Arrows was at Silverstone last week with both Damon Hill and Pedro Diniz in action, sorting out the gremlins in the new Arrows-Yamaha A18. Arrows will begin a major test in Barcelona on Friday, February 7.

McLaren begins testing today at Estoril with plans for a non-stop test for the next couple of weeks. The second MP4-12 is currently being completed but this will remain in England until after the team's sponsorship launch on February 13.

And at Fiorano Eddie Irvine established a new lap record with an old F310 fitted with F310B running gear. The Italian team is hoping that this will stop the negative publicity in Italy and Germany about the performance of the new car. Ferrari shook down its second F310B on Sunday at Fiorano and the team set off for Estoril where a six-day test will begin on Thursday.

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