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Hakkinen top the timesheets in Barcelona

MIKA HAKKINEN recorded the fastest time of last week's three-day test in Barcelona, which featured not only the 11 current F1 teams but also Honda Racing Developments, continuing its development program. In total there were 25 different drivers in action: the usual 22 plus Honda's Jos Verstappen, Minardi test driver Gaston Mazzacane and British American Racing's Patrick Lemarie.

The weather was mainly good although half of the second day was lost to rain. Both Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard were in action, trying to rebuild the McLaren team's confidence after two unexpected Ferrari victories. Coulthard was fastest on the first day and Hakkinen was quickest on the second and third. The Finn had some engine troubles but ended the test having completed 100 laps with a best of 1m21.771s. Coulthard achieved rather more running, completing 190 laps, getting down to a best of 1m22.468s, which was the fourth fastest time of the test.

McLaren's nearest rival, as expected, was Ferrari and the team had both Michael Schumacher and Eddie Irvine in action at the test. In the end the German ended up second fastest with a fastest lap on the final day of 1m21.890s, just slower than Hakkinen's best lap. He completed 150 laps, losing time after riding heavily over a curb, which damaged the underside of his engine. Eddie Irvine also hit a curb heavily and his chassis was sufficiently damaged for it to be sent off to Maranello for repairs. Irvine did not take part in the third day of testing and had to be satisfied with only 50 laps and a best of 1m23.969s.

The Jordan team was on the pace as usual with Damon Hill emerging third fastest at the end of the three days after 153 laps of the track, the Englishman's best lap being a 1m22.400s. His Jordan team-mate Heinz-Harald Frentzen had an off and lost some running time but he still managed to complete a total of 148 laps. His best lap was a 1m22.570s, the sixth fastest lap of the test.

The two Jordan drivers were split at the end of the test by Prost Grand Prix's Olivier Panis who completed 200 laps with a best of 1m22.525s. Jarno Trulli was also busy and completed a total of 125 laps with a best of 1m22.861s.

The Williams team continued its development programs with both drivers running on all three days, As usual Ralf Schumacher was the faster of the two, setting a best of 1m22.810s after 182 laps, while Alex Zanardi completed 125 laps and set a best of 1m23.701s.

Sauber was very busy with both Jean Alesi and Pedro Diniz doing a lot of laps as they try to sort out the handling problems of the C18. There were some new developments on the cars including a new undertray. Alesi did 185 laps with a best lap of 1m23.052s while Diniz for once was faster with a best of 1m22.841s after 202 laps of the track.

British American Racing was much in the news during the test, although not because of any exploits on the track. The team ran its test driver Patrick Lemarie on the first day, the Frenchman clocking up 74 laps but setting a best of only 1m26.87s. Jacques Villeneuve then took over the car but completed only 60 laps in the course of the next two days as a result of recurring fuel pressure problems. On the final day of the test he set a best of 1m23.528s. Mika Salo ran on all three days of the test, completing a total of 132 laps with a best of 1m22.963s despite some hydraulic problems.

Stewart Grand Prix was also doing a lot of reliability running with both Johnny Herbert and Rubens Barrichello in action on all three days. The cars featured a variety of new ideas, including a revised rear suspension and a new specification engine. In the end Herbert ended up the faster of the two drivers with a best lap of 1m23.482s after 175 laps while Barrichello completed 125 and was clocked at 1m23.658s.

The Honda prototype chassis was run once again by Jos Verstappen but the team stayed for only two days, the Dutchman completing 100 laps with a best of 1m23.516s.

Benetton's poor fortunes continued with another depressing test. On Thursday morning Giancarlo Fisichella damaged his chassis running over a curb. He then took over Alexander Wurz's car and by the end of the test had completed a total of 100 laps but his best time was only a 1m23.658s. Wurz completed 87 laps and his best was a 1m24.279s.

Minardi was busy on all three days of the test, running test driver Gaston Mazzacane briefly on the first day. The team had a pair of the new long-wheelbase M199s present and Badoer completed 75 laps with a best of 1m24.591s. Marc Gene was also in action and did 50 laps with a best of 1m25.339s.

Arrows had only a short test although Pedro de la Rosa did two days of running in preparation for his home race. He did 50 laps with a best 1m25.922s while Tora Takagi did only one day of running, completing 30 laps and setting a best of 1m26.53s.

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