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Testing deal in place

THE Formula 1 teams, the FIA and Bridgestone representatives met last week in London and reached agreement as to how much testing the teams will be allowed in 1999. We understand that the agreement includes 50 days of testing with a maximum of four sets of tires per day. In an effort to keep the teams happy Bridgestone has agreed to nominate two circuits for each test date. This will cut down the organizational problems for the Japanese tiremaker, which was trying to avoid having to supply tires to teams at four or five different locations. It is expected that while a lot of testing will be done at Silverstone and Barcelona, there will also be tests at Fiorano, Mugello and Monza to keep Ferrari happy.

Some of the teams tested for as many as 100 days in the course of 1998 and the 50-day restriction will certainly cut costs. It will also place more emphasis on the value of producing a competitive car. Any team which has fundamental problems with its design - as happened to Ferrari and Williams in 1998 - is going to struggle to catch up. We understand that the Bridgestone racing division is under pressure to cut back expenditure following a company decision to reduce capital investment in anticipation of a economic slow-down in the US and Europe next year. The deal scuppered plans by British American Racing and Stewart to run last week at Silverstone as Bridgestone refused to supply tires to teams which were not at Jerez in Spain. It is unclear as to why the two teams did not despatch their test teams to Jerez.

BAR did not help its relationship with Bridgestone by issuing a press release blaming the tiremaker for scuppering its first shakedown tests for the BAR-Supertec 01 chassis. This week's testing in Barcelona will be the last test this year and so we would expect the BAR-Supertec to be shaken-down in Spain.

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