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McLarens ahead at Jerez

McLAREN, Williams, Jordan and Sauber were in action last week at Jerez de la Frontera in southern Spain in very hot conditions, with temperatures around 100-degrees Fahrenheit. This was good preparation for the Hungaroring as temperatures in Budapest are often very high.

It was no great surprise to see McLaren dominating the test with David Coulthard setting the fastest time during his days of running. The Scotsman completed 85 laps on Wednesday and Thursday with a best of 1m24.02s. His time was matched on the final day of the test by Mika Hakkinen who completed 60 laps in his two days of running but lost time because of an engine problem. His best was 1m24.09s. McLaren was also running its test driver Riccardo Zonta, who partnered Coulthard on the first day of the test, had the middle day off and then ran with Hakkinen on the third day. He completed over 100 laps with a best of 1m25.35s.

Williams followed a similar pattern of testing with Jacques Villeneuve starting out the test with tester Juan-Pablo Montoya. On the second day Villeneuve was joined by Heinz-Harald Frentzen and on the third day Montoya returned to partner Frentzen. Fastest of the test was Montoya - who is bidding for a place in the team next year - with a best lap of 1m24.27s after 110 laps, while Frentzen was only slightly slower with a lap of 1m24.59s after 80 laps. Villeneuve completed 100 laps with a best of 1m25.14s.

Montoya could still land the second Williams seat if he can convince the management that he has the drive, determination and stamina to do the job. He is quick but has tended to be slow after long runs, indicating that he is not as fit as he could be.

Jordan Grand Prix was present with one car and ran test driver Juichi Wakisaki on the first day of the testing. The Japanese driver completed 42 laps - which included one off - but could do only a 1m27.74s. On the second day Damon Hill arrived from his vacation in nearby Marbella and on Thursday and Friday the 1996 World Champion completed 160 laps of the track, getting down to a best time of 1m25.27s.

Sauber was troubled by overheating problems throughout the test which was split between Johnny Herbert and test driver Jorg Muller, each getting a day and a half of running. Herbert completed a total of 60 laps with a best lap of 1m25.62s, while Muller did 64 laps with a best of 1m26.75s.

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