AUGUST 4, 1997
This week's testing
THE Formula 1 test teams have been in action in the last week at Silverstone, Mugello, Fiorano, Barcelona and at the drag racing strip at Santa Pod in Bedfordshire in England. The major test was at Silverstone where McLaren, Benetton, Jordan, Stewart, Arrows and Tyrrell were all in action despite poor weather conditions.
Fastest of the three-day test was McLaren driver David Coulthard who set a fastest time on Wednesday of 1m24.46s. McLaren continued its 1998 development program with young German Nick Heidfeld running for three days in the narrow-track MP4-12 chassis.
The changeable weather conditions meant that Rubens Barrichello was second fastest in the Stewart-Ford, profiting from the impressive Bridgestone intermediate tires. He was just two-tenths slower than Coulthard in the course of his 78 laps. Stewart ran just one car for the test with Jan Magnussen due to have his turn at Silverstone after the Hungarian GP.
Third fastest was another Bridgestone car, Pedro Diniz recording a 1m24.52s lap during his 30 laps of running. The Arrows test was, however, disrupted by an engine failure.
Jordan ran both Ralf Schumacher and Giancarlo Fisichella with the German completing a total of 60 laps with a best time of 1m24.59s and Fisichella doing 21 laps before going off at Bridge Bend and damaging his car. The Jordan team used the test to try out its 1998-spec narrow-track development car for the first time.
Tyrrell ran all three of its drivers in the course of the testing, Toranosuke Takagi setting the fastest time during a race simulation run. Both Jos Verstappen and Mika Salo tried the 025X, the 1998-spec car, and both reckoned that the team is making rapid progress for next year.
Benetton ran Gerhard Berger, Alexander Wurz and Martin Brundle during the test, which followed a day at Santa Pod during which Jean Alesi and Berger practiced starts.
Ferrari and Minardi were both busy at Mugello where Eddie Irvine was setting the pace during his 150 laps over three days. The Ulsterman had a new chassis to try and concentrated on aerodynamic development work. The team's test driver Nicola Larini is due to do some shakedown testing at Fiorano this week.
Minardi ran 50 laps with Tarso Marques working on an electronic brake-balance system and doing practice starts. The team hopes to do well in Hungary where engine power is not a factor.
Williams ran a two-car test in Barcelona, Jacques Villeneuve and Heinz-Harald Frentzen sharing an FW19 while Jean-Christophe Boullion continued his development work with the 1998-spec FW18D. Villeneuve completed 100 laps on the first two days of the test while Frentzen did 75 during his own day of running.
Sauber chose to go the Ferrari test track at Fiorano to prepare for the twisty Hungaroring. Johnny Herbert did two and half days of the three-day test, completing 220 laps before handing over to Gianni Morbidelli.
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