MARCH 2, 1998
Final tests as F1 heads for Melbourne
Ferrari ran all three of its cars at the Fiorano test track, Michael Schumacher recording the fastest time achieved by the F300 at the circuit after around 60 laps in the two cars he will have available in Australia. The German also did a number of pit stops. Nicola Larini finished off the testing at the end of the week, shaking down the car which Eddie Irvine will use in Melbourne, the British driver having already left Europe. Ferrari is taking three cars and a spare F300 monocoque to Australia.
Williams ran one car for three days at Barcelona but was once again careful to ensure that no-one was told a great deal about what the team was doing and no lap times were made public. There have been rumors in recent days that the recent Williams secret tests have involved a considerable amount of tire work for Goodyear, with the intention being to catch Bridgestone out with a new tire in Melbourne.
Prost finished off a five-day session of tests as Magny-Cours on Friday with all three AP01 chassis having been shaken down. The team admitted that the problems it has experienced with the new gearbox have not been easy to solve but that it is optimistic that Olivier Panis and Jarno Trulli will be competitive in Australia. The team is in the process of moving its first departments into the new Prost factory at Guyancourt.
Minardi was running at Monza after the official launch of the car on Monday, with Esteban Tuero completing the 1250Êmiles of running demanded by the FIA before he is granted a superlicence to race in F1. Minardi completed the necessary crash tests in the course of the week.
McLaren ran twin tests at Silverstone and Paul Ricard with David Coulthard running two cars at Silverstone on Wednesday while Mika Hakkinen spent two days at Ricard before handing his car over to Coulthard for the final tests on Friday. The two Silverstone cars were despatched to Australia at the end of the week, while the Ricard car was sent off as soon as it returned to Woking over the weekend.
Jordan, Benetton and Arrows all ran at Silverstone with Jordan doing over 200 laps of the Northamptonshire track while Benetton concentrated on giving Giancarlo Fisichella and Alexander Wurz practice for their IN and OUT laps at pit stops.
Stewart had to concentrate on exhaust problems rather than fine-tuning the chassis and seeing how the cars run in qualifying trim.