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Williams improves with revised car

ALTHOUGH the Monza testing last week was badly disrupted by rain, the dry sessions gave Williams the chance to test a revised version of its FW20 chassis, which has been reworked at the rear. Jacques Villeneuve completed 90 laps of the Milan circuit with a best time on the second day of 1m25.11s, which split the two McLarens. Heinz-Harald Frentzen was due to take over on the final day of the test but was unable to run because of rain.

McLaren continues to dominate F1, however, with the fastest time of the test going to David Coulthard in his McLaren-Mercedes MP4/13. He completed 56 laps on the first two days of running with a best time of 1m24.86s while Mika Hakkinen did a total of 51 laps in the course of the three days, although his progress was slowed by an engine failure similar to that experienced by Coulthard at Monaco. His best lap was a 1m25.83s but he would probably have gone faster if he had an untroubled run.

Ferrari's Michael Schumacher set the fourth fastest time of the test with a lap of 1m26.04s on the second day before heavy rain started to fall. Ferrari had started testing on Tuesday with test driver Luca Badoer trying out a new rear wing in the course of his 40 laps. Schumacher was due to run on Thursday but he called it off because he had the flu and Eddie Irvine appeared instead, although he did only one lap in the torrential rain that day. Ferrari then packed up and went home to Maranello with Irvine running briefly at the team's Fiorano test track on Friday.

Also in action at Monza were the Prost and Sauber teams with both working on engine development. Jarno Trulli continued his work with the Peugeot EV4 engine which is due to appear at Magny-Cours, while also doing tire development work for Bridgestone. He completed 66 laps in the first two days with a best of 1m26.20s before the rain came. Olivier Panis took over on Thursday but did just a couple of laps in the wet. The team stayed on for Friday but the rain stayed too and the test had to be aborted.

Sauber had Jean Alesi running the latest version of the Sauber Petronas V10 engine which boasts an extra 500rpm. The Frenchman ran on all three days of the test, completing 100 laps with a best time of 1m26.65s.

Minardi did not run, preferring to get everything organized for the team's departure to Montreal. The Italians are planning a major test at Magny-Cours when they return from Canada with the intention of trying a new long wheelbase version of the M198.

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