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The testing grind continues

THE incredible - some might say insane - Formula 1 testing schedule continued last week with major tests going on at Magny-Cours and at Mugello. The F1 testing this year has been more intensive than ever before with the result that Ferrari, for example, has done 20,000 miles of testing this season. That works out at around 1000 miles a week, given the ban on testing in the week before a race.

Ferrari was the most active team again last week, going into action at Mugello on Tuesday with Michael Schumacher and Eddie Irvine doing set-up work for both the Nurburgring and Suzuka, using 15 different types of tires. Schumacher completed 80 laps and Irvine did another 56, both men setting similar times around the Ferrari test track near Florence.

Work continued on Wednesday but Schumacher had major gearbox trouble and did only 31 laps while Irvine completed 107 laps.

On the Thursday there was rain in Florence but Irvine did another 69 laps while Schumacher was in action at Ferrari's second test track at Fiorano, where he completed 46 laps of engine development work. The tests at Fiorano then continued throughout Friday.

At Magny-Cours McLaren, Williams, Jordan, Benetton, Sauber and Prost were all in action and it was McLaren test driver Ricardo Zonta who emerged quickest during the three days of testing. The Brazilian ran on the first two days of the test, completing a total of 100 laps with a best time of 1m16.251s. Also in action for McLaren was David Coulthard who concentrated on long-term development work and completed 181 laps with a best time of 1m16.749s. The two left at the end of Wednesday and Mika Hakkinen appeared for a day, completing 80 laps with a best of 1m17.15s.

Williams was in action with both its test drivers running on all three days of the test and Juan-Pablo Montoya ended his three days with the third fastest time, just behind Coulthard's best. He completed 200 laps with a best of 1m16.871s while doing tire evaluation work and testing components which will be used on next year's FW21. Max Wilson also did nearly 200 laps with his best being 1m17.87s.

Jordan arrived at Magny-Cours with just one car and test driver Pedro de la Rosa started testing on Wednesday, completing 38 laps for a best time of 1m18.10s. He then handed over to Damon Hill for the final two days of the test, Damon running a total of 135 laps in the course of the next two days with a best lap of 1m17.31s.

The Prost test team had two cars on all three days of the test but did not start work until Wednesday afternoon with Jarno Trulli and test driver Stephane Sarrazin. The youngster completed 38 laps with a best of 1m18.77s. He then handed over to Olivier Panis for the last two days of the test while Trulli continued to work with his own car. In the end it was Panis who set the faster time with a best of 1m17.35s after 92 laps. Trulli had problems and managed only 60 laps in the course of the three days.

Sauber had just one car and began working with its German test driver Jorg Muller on Wednesday afternoon. He completed 30 laps with a best of 1m18.12s. Jean Alesi then took over for two days and completed a total of 75 laps with a best of 1m17.569s.

Benetton had a disappointing test doing tire, brake and aerodynamic development work with two cars in action on all three days of the test. The team said it had been running only heavy fuel loads but Giancarlo Fisichella managed only 80 laps with a best lap of 1m17.691s, while Alexander Wurz suffered an engine failure during his testing and completed only 100 laps with a best of 1m18.127s.

Arrows, Stewart, Minardi and Tyrrell did not appear testing although both Arrows and Stewart did run briefly on the Santa Pod dragstrip in England doing shakedown and electronic development work respectively.

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