JULY 20, 1998
Meanwhile at Monza...
McLaren's nearest challenger on the fast blasts of Monza was Williams which ran a two-car test for three days. On the first day of the test Jacques Villeneuve completed 63 laps with a best time of 1m25.56s. He was joined by the team's test driver Juan-Pablo Montoya who was doing endurance testing to establish whether or not he is fit enough to be signed up by the team for 1999. The Columbian completed close to 200 laps in the course of the three days, although he was stopped by gearbox trouble on Thursday. His best lap was a 1m25.97s. Heinz-Harald Frentzen took over Villeneuve's car on Wednesday and Thursday and recorded a best lap of 1m24.41s, which confirmed the progress which has been made in recent weeks by the Williams team.
Ferrari was less impressive with neither Eddie Irvine nor Michael Schumacher able to get out of the high 1m24s despite a considerable number of laps. Irvine ran on all four days completing a total of 230 laps with a best of 1m24.864s, while Schumacher ran only Wednesday and Thursday, trying out a new long-wheelbase car which he reckoned was better than the existing machine. His best lap was a 1m24.815s - the fourth fastest time of the week.
Ferrari ran both Luca Badoer and Michael Schumacher at Fiorano on Saturday, the Italian shaking down the cars for Austria and the German continuing the development of the long-wheelbase car. The team is expected to take this car to Austria alongside the three normal cars.
Sauber had a good solid test with Johnny Herbert completing 75 laps in the course of the first two days to set a time of 1m25.26s. Jean Alesi took over on Thursday and completed 35 laps equalling Herbert's time.
Jordan was able to get down to the Sauber times on Wednesday with Ralf Schumacher setting a best of 1m25.27s in the course of his chassis development work. The first day of the test saw test driver Pedro de la Rosa in action. He completed 31 laps in the drying conditions and set a best lap of 1m28.62s, using the team's old aerodynamics. Schumacher and Damon Hill took over on Wednesday with the latest sidepods and barge boards and they completed around 250 laps between them. Both had accidents on Thursday but Schumacher ended the test with his quick lap and Hill got down to 1m25.64s in his repaired car.
Benetton's progress was also delayed by accidents beginning on the first day of the test when Alexander Wurz had a fairly big accident at the Ascari chicane. The car was repaired and Wurz continued his work on Wednesday. Fisichella had also been in action on Tuesday but on Wednesday morning had a big crash at the same place as Wurz's the previous day. The car was destroyed and Fisichella shaken in the crash, which came after only six laps. On Thursday Wurz continued testing alone and got down to a time of 1m25.497s while the test was extended into Friday to give Fisichella a chance to drive Wurz's car. His best lap was a 1m25.347s.
Stewart Grand Prix started work on Tuesday afternoon with Barrichello doing 25 laps. The following day he managed another 50 before suffering another Ford engine failure. His best time was a 1m25.79s. Jos Verstappen took over the car on Thursday and set a best time of 1m25.74s at the end of the afternoon, eclipsing his team-mate.
Prost Grand Prix began testing with one car on Tuesday with Jarno Trulli driving, doing aerodynamic, suspension and differential development work. He was joined on Wednesday by Panis who went on testing until Friday when he managed to get down to a best lap of 1m25.97s. continuing work on the differential and doing tire tests for Bridgestone.
Arrows was also in action at Monza with one car running for three days. Mika Salo drove the car on Tuesday, completing 42 laps of aerodynamic testing with a best lap of 1m26.08s. He then handed over to Pedro Diniz who completed 50 laps in the course of the next two days before going off at the first chicane and damaging the car beyond immediate repair. His best lap prior to the crash was a 1m26.05s.
Minardi was also in action at Monza with both Shinji Nakano and Esteban Tuero running. The M198 was, however, struggling to keep up with the opposition.
Tyrrell did not test at Monza, preferring to stay in Britain.