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...but not with the F300

THE new Ferrari F300 continues to be difficult with the team now having wasted almost a month without a decent test of the car. The F300 was first tested before Christmas at Fiorano but serious work did not begin until after the team's launch on January 6. In the first week of testing Schumacher suffered a string of gearbox electronic problems which kept testing to a minimum as the new Ferrari gearbox continually selected neutral. The team cancelled a test in Jerez and stayed at Fiorano so that the team's test driver Nicola Larini could spend three days close to base sorting out the trouble. The car was then sent to Jerez a week later than planned but when Schumacher began driving again there were more electronic problems. The team then switched to Mugello, beginning work on Saturday, but after only 13 laps the car was overheating badly at the rear end and the 800 fans who had turned up to watch were disappointed.

Elsewhere Prost Grand Prix has also been having gearbox problems with the new AP01 at Magny-Cours. The new unit failed after just seven laps with Panis driving and he managed only 11 more the following day. The car was then handed over to Jarno Trulli but he went off into a gravel trap, saying later that the incident had been his fault but that he had not been happy with the brakes. The team then decided to call off its plans to go to Barcelona this week so that it can be close to its home base if there are further problems in testing.

Stewart is another team having serious gearbox problems which have delayed the running of the car since ever since it was launched on January 13. The Stewart-Ford SF2 was to have run at Silverstone last week but that test has now been put off until this week. The problems are related to composite materials in the new gearbox.

Sauber and Tyrrell both enjoyed successful runs last week with Johnny Herbert giving the Swiss team an optimistic start to year with 63 untroubled laps around the Ferrari test track in Fiorano. Sauber will now take the Sauber Petronas C17 to Barcelona where Herbert and Jean Alesi will both drive this week. Alesi missed the Fiorano test because he was taking part in an ice race at Chamonix with his old French racing pal Philippe Gache.

Tyrrell completed 18 laps at Silverstone on Thursday with Toranosuke Takagi at the wheel of the prototype Tyrrell-Ford 026. The team will now head to Barcelona for further testing this week.

The Barcelona test will be the first real head-to-head test of the 1998 season and the first real chance to see how the battle is developing between Goodyear and Bridgestone. All the teams will be present except for Prost Grand Prix, while McLaren will be the only one running old chassis, the new MP4-13 not due to be ready to run until Wednesday, when there is to be a "technical launch" for the car at the McLaren factory in Woking.

The new Arrows-Yamaha A19 will also be seen in Barcelona, although it is expected to run in a plain black livery. The team is expected to unveil its full sponsorship package at some point in mid-February.

The A19 - designed by John Barnard's new team of engineers - ran for the first time at Silverstone on Friday.

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