Honda website
Honda website

APRIL 5, 1999

It's a long way back to Melbourne

WHEN the Formula 1 teams returned to Europe after the Australian Grand Prix they did enough miles of testing between them to have driven a car from Europe back to Melbourne! When they packed up to go to Brazil the 11 F1 teams had covered a grand total of 14,400 miles of testing in the last three weeks. And that does not include the aerodynamic mapping work up and down runways which several teams have also completed.

The race to test more than anyone else was fought out between Prost Grand Prix and Ferrari with the French team finally coming out ahead with an astonishing total of 2,660 miles of testing in the course of its three three-day tests. Ferrari ran on 14 separate days, at five different tracks and ended up with around 2,500 miles covered. The team says it has made progress - one would hope so - but it must now be careful because the new testing rules means that teams have only 50 days of testing each season. Ferrari has used a minimum of 11 days of testing in the last month - which is over 20% of the testing days it has available.

Jordan Grand Prix was the third busiest team with around 1,750 miles covered, excluding straightline work, while McLaren notched up an estimated 1,500 (although exact figures are difficult to assess because its Jerez test took place behind closed doors).

Benetton completed a respectable 1,400 miles and British American Racing began to get serious with 1,235 miles. Sauber, which had serious gearbox trouble at one test, managed only 1,100. Minardi also had trouble because of Luca Badoer's accident and managed 715 miles, while Stewart Grand Prix was quick but did only 600 miles (excluding straightlineƊwork).

Williams stayed home for most of the month and completed only 585 miles in its only test at Barcelona and Arrows, which no longer has a test team and is struggling for money, completed 300 miles.