JUNE 23, 1997
Williams ahead at Magny-Cours
JACQUES VILLENEUVE dominated testing at Magny-Cours last week, completing nearly 200 laps of the French circuit to set a best time of 1m15.16s - which is nearly a second faster than Michael Schumacher's pole position at the track last July. The team concentrated on tire testing work and set-up for the race. Heinz-Harald Frentzen was third fastest with a best of 1m15.43s after 136 laps of the track.
Splitting the two Williams drivers was the Benetton of Jean Alesi which completed 100 laps of the track to record a 1m15.37s despite an electrical failure. Gerhard Berger's replacement Alexander Wurz continued his work for the team, doing 130 laps without drama to set a best of 1m15.50s. Wurz is expected to stay in the car this weekend, with Berger now aiming to return to action at the British GP.
Ferrari had a pair of F310B chassis at Magny-Cours and Michael Schumacher and Eddie Irvine both did a lot of running with Michael completing over 200 laps as he worked on engine development and tried out the 1998-spec grooved tires for the first time. His best time was a 1m15.46s. Eddie Irvine did fewer laps - letting Schumacher use his car for back-to-back tests on Thursday - and completed less than 100 laps.
The Jordan team had only one car for the test with Giancarlo Fisichella running on the first day of the test, completing 87 laps with a best of 1m15.86s before handing over to Ralf Schumacher who ran for the second and third days of the test, completing 150 laps which included one spin. His best lap was a 1m15.68s.
McLaren was also in action at the Magny-Cours test but there were problems with the new Mercedes-Benz engine for both cars on the first day of running. In the end David Coulthard completed 140 laps with a best of 1m15.92s while Mika Hakkinen did 150 laps with a best of 1m16.29s. The team was unable to complete its tire testing program because of engine troubles.
The Sauber team ran Johnny Herbert for 100 laps - with a best of 1m16.16s - before handing over to Morbidelli, who crashed after just 18 laps.
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