Testing action last week

THERE were three days of testing last week in Barcelona, where teams were preparing for the forthcoming Spanish Grand Prix and it was the two Williams-Renault drivers Jacques Villeneuve and Heinz-Harald Frentzen dominating proceedings as usual. Villeneuve completed 200 laps (585 miles) with a best lap of 1m18.37s. Frentzen did even more running, clocking 232 laps (680 miles), with a fastest time of 1m18.37s on Thursday.

Benetton, always on the pace in testing but hopeless at recent races, ran test driver Alexander Wurz and Minardi's Jarno Trulli on Wednesday. Wurz completed 44 laps with a best of 1m20.15s while Trulli - ostensibly doing some filming work - completed 53 laps with a best of 1m20.55s. Regular drivers Jean Alesi and Gerhard Berger took over for Thursday and Friday but did not do a lot of running, Jean completing a total of 44 laps with a best of 1m18.74s and Gerhard completing 52 laps with a best of 1m19.76s.

The only other man to break into the 1m18s was Mika Hakkinen on Friday, who recorded a 1m18.08s after 135 laps in his McLaren. David Coulthard did 140 laps with a best of 1m19.56s.

Ferrari had a pair of test cars at the test for Michael Schumacher and Eddie Irvine. The World Championship leader did 150 laps with a best of 1m19.27s on Friday but was slower than Irvine who rounded off 135 laps with a best time of 1m19.15s.

Splitting the two Ferraris was the Prost-Mugen Honda of Olivier Panis, which completed 131 laps over the three days with a best lap of 1m19.24s on Friday. Shinji Nakano did 100 laps but could lap no quicker than a 1m20.93s. The team did not, however, test any other drivers and thus it is safe to say that Nakano looks like being in the car for the Spanish GP.

Both Jordan drivers were in action for all three days with Ralf Schumacher the faster on this occasion with a time of 1m19.30s after 174 laps while Giancarlo Fisichella completed just 116 laps to record his 1m20.19s on Thursday.

Sauber ran Johnny Herbert for the first two days of the test, the Englishman completing 138 laps with a best of 1m20.30s before handing over to Ferrari's test driver Gianni Morbidelli.

Minardi was also present at the test with Ukyo Katayama completing 77 laps over one and a half days of running - with a best lap of 1m21.29s - before handing over to test driver Tarso Marques, who completed 85 laps with a best run of 1m22.52s.

Tyrrell chose to test at Silverstone where Mika Salo and Jos Verstappen each had a day with the new Ford ED5 V8 engine. The drivers were delighted to get some more horsepower - even if it was not quite as much as they hoped it would be.

Arrows and Stewart stopped off at Magny-Cours on the way back from Monaco, running on Tuesday and Wednesday, Rubens Barrichello was fastest, clocking a best lap of 1m15.310s after 83 laps. Jan Magnussen completed 56 laps with a best of 1m16.62s. Damon Hill did a total of 63 laps with a best of 1m17.94s before crashing heavily while Pedro Diniz completed 45 laps with a best of 1m18.98s.

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