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MARCH 29, 1999

Testing around Europe

FORMULA 1 testing continued at various tracks around Europe, despite poor weather which ruined McLaren's test at Jerez in southern Spain and disrupted running at Magny-Cours. The French test was the biggest, featuring Jordan, Prost and Sauber. The first day was ruined by rain although all the drivers present took the opportunity of running in the wet.

The second day was fine and Heinz-Harald Frentzen emerged fastest having completed 150 laps over the two days, despite a gearbox failure on the second day. His best lap was a 1m18.03s. Damon Hill was only a tenth slower than Frentzen and completed 140 laps, giving the team a total of 760 miles for the two days. The Jordan test team then moved on to the nearby testing facility at Lurcy-Levis where it spent two days doing aerodynamic mapping work up and down the runway of the airfield.

Olivier Panis was third fastest at Magny-Cours with a best lap of 1m18.59s after 165 laps while Jarno Trulli did 110 laps but did not go for a quick time at the end of the test and so ended up with a best of 1m19.70s.

Sauber ran only one car with Jean Alesi at the wheel on the first day. The Frenchman suffered serious gearbox problems and was able to do only a few laps in the wet. Diniz took over but the team did only 60 laps in total with Pedro setting a best of 1m20.70s.

McLaren chose to go south to Jerez de la Frontera, eager to run the MP4/14 in warm conditions on the bumpy Spanish circuit in preparation for Interlagos. The test was conducted behind closed doors with two cars running, but no details of the test were released. Progress was not helped by driving rain and high winds. McLaren also did some aerodynamic mapping work on the 2000m runway at Kemble airfield in Gloucestershire with test driver Darren Manning.

Ferrari spent the weekend at Jerez with Michael Schumacher and Eddie Irvine completing 300 laps between them. Schumacher concentrated on trying to find more grip, while Irvine did race simulation work. Schumacher tried to dampen down criticism of Ferrari, saying that the F399 is "a very good car" and that it is impossible to judge the team after just one race.

The team then went back to Italy where a second test at Fiorano began on Tuesday with Luca Badoer doing six laps, shaking down a car for Schumacher to use on Wednesday. The German then ran two full days but the third was spoiled by rain. He completed a total of 218 laps of the track (403 miles). The team is due to go to Mugello this week where they will be joined by Minardi.

Stewart Grand Prix went to Lurcy-Levis to do aerodynamic mapping work with former F3 driver Mario Haberfeld at the wheel and the team returned to England confident that it had found even more speed.