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McLaren dominant in Silverstone tests

THERE were three days of testing last week at Silverstone although the British summer weather was once again disruptive with rain interupting activity on Tuesday and Wednesday. The third day of the test was dry but overcast and resulted in Mika Hakkinen setting the fastest time of the test with a lap of 1m25.966s. Hakkinen ran on all three days of the test during which he did 100 laps while the McLaren test driver Nick Heidfeld did the first two days for McLaren (he completed 50 laps) and then switched to a Prost-Peugeot on the final day. The Formula 3000 Champion was within a few tenths of Hakkinen on the first two days but dropped down the order when he switched to Prost.

This meant that it was Rubens Barrichello who emerged as the nearest challenger to McLaren on the final day with a best lap of 1m26.08s - just a few hundredths slower than Hakkinen. The Stewart team did three days of tests beginning with Luciano Burti completing 46 laps on Tuesday. He was replaced on Wednesday by Johnny Herbert and the Englishman was joined by Rubens Barrichello on the final day of the test. Barrichello did 57 laps while Herbert completed 70 over two days, his best lap being a 1m26.10s - only slightly slower than Barrichello.

Pedro Diniz did all three days of the test, working on aerodynamic settings and gearbox development, and by the end of the test had completed 120 laps of the track with a best of 1m26.919s - the fourth fastest time.

The Williams team did only two days of running with both Ralf Schumacher and Alessandro Zanardi in action. The German completed a total of 66 laps and the Italian 86 laps. Schumacher set the faster time with a best of 1m27.02s - a tenth faster than Zanardi's best.

British American Racing had both Jacques Villeneuve and Ricardo Zonta in action for two days but they were not able to do as many laps as had been hoped because of mechanical trouble. Villeneuve completed 59 laps over two days while Zonta did only 11. Jacques's best time was a 1m27.25s while Zonta did only a 1m29.29s.

Benetton was in action with Alexander Wurz and test driver Laurent Redon, the pair continuing the aerodynamic development program begun by Redon at Lurcy-Levis. The Frenchman completed a total of 80 laps over three days while Wurz did 75. The Austrian's best time was a 1m27.57s while Redon's best was almost identical.

Jordan had Heinz-Harald Frentzen running on all three days of the test and he completed 187 laps but did not set any fast times as the team was concentrating on brake and tire testing. His best was a 1m27.81s.

Olivier Panis ran for two days in the Prost before handing over to Heidfeld. The Frenchman completed 85 laps but his times were slowed by the bad weather and so Heidfeld set the fastest time for the team on Thursday with a 1m28.50s after 32 laps.

The only other team in action was Arrows which ran Tora Takagi on Wednesday and Pedro de la Rosa on Thursday. The Spaniard did 24 laps while the Japanese did only 18.

At Mugello Ferrari began testing on Wednesday with Mika Salo. He completed 142 laps in the course of his two days of running while Eddie Irvine did the same mileage on Thursday and Friday while Michael Schumacher did 65 laps during his tests.

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