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MARCH 22, 1999

Stewart smashes records in Spain

RUBENS BARRICHELLO demolished the 1999 lap record at Barcelona last week, lapping the Circuit de Catalunya in 1m20.491s. This was half a second faster than Jarno Trulli's best lap of the winter, which was set just before the teams headed off to Australia. To back up Stewart's domination of the test Johnny Herbert was second fastest, although the English driver did not run with light fuel and new tires and had to make do with a best lap of 1m22.101s. Between them the two Stewart drivers completed a total of 207 laps (608 miles) although there were some engine reliability problems on the first day of the test. The team did a number of race start simulations to check that the overheating problems in Australia have been cured.

Ferrari spent two days at Barcelona but with Michael Schumacher out of action having sprained an ankle while jogging, the work was left to Melbourne winner Eddie Irvine. The Ulsterman completed 153 laps of the track to set a best time of 1m23.196s. The Ferrari test team then moved on to Jerez where it ran Michael Schumacher over the weekend.

Jordan had two cars for Damon Hill and Heinz-Harald Frentzen and the pair completed an impressive 330 laps of the track - which is almost 1,000 miles of running. Hill matched Irvine's best time while Frentzen's best was just a tenth slower.

Clocking up a similar amount of running was the Sauber team which ran both Jean Alesi and Pedro Diniz. Alesi completed 219 laps by himself while the Brazilian did 105 before an engine failure. Alesi's best lap was a 1m23.282s while Diniz had to be content with a 1m24.081s.

The record for mileage in Barcelona went, however, to Prost Grand Prix which ran Jarno Trulli and Olivier Panis on all three days of the testing. Trulli completed 209 laps and Panis 200, bring the team's total running for the week to 1,200 miles. Trulli set a best lap of 1m23.290s while Panis was three-tenths slower.

Minardi also had a very productive test with Marc Gene doing a variety of work, including gearbox reliability testing and weight distribution tests. The Spaniard completed 153 laps and set a best time of 1m23.925s.