Panis tests for McLaren

WHILE most of the Formula 1 drivers stayed out in Asia after the Malaysian Grand Prix, Luca Badoer and Olivier Panis flew back to Europe to undertake testing work, Badoer for Ferrari and Panis for McLaren. Panis's test is seen as a preliminary to an announcement that he will be McLaren's third driver next season.

There was a certain irony in the fact that Panis was in action at Magny-Cours alongside former McLaren test driver Nick Heidfeld, who will take Olivier's Prost drive next year. Heidfeld has now ceased testing for McLaren and is working for Prost. In addition to McLaren and Prost, the Williams test team was in action at Magny-Cours with Denmark's Tom Kristensen being called up to do the work. Kristensen has been driving this year for the BMW sportscar team, which was run by Williams. The two days of testing were somewhat disrupted by bad weather but Panis completed 104 laps of the track with a best of 1m18.58s. Heidfeld completed 117 laps and set a best time of 1m19.96s while Kristensen did 22 laps and set a best of 1m20.16s.

Ferrari ran on four days at Fiorano with Badoer completing a total of 315 laps of the Ferrari testing circuit, during which he set a new lap record at the track. Most of his work concerned development for the 2000 car.

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