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Irvine tops Jerez testing for Jaguar

WITH the days ticking away before the opening round of the Formula 1 World Championship in Melbourne, Formula 1 testing activity has intensified with a major test at Jerez and other work being carried out at Barcelona, Mugello and Fiorano. The Jerez test lasted for three days and the weather was good throughout and Eddie Irvine was able to set the fastest lap at 1m23.240s after 141 laps. Johnny Herbert had some problems and so did only 107 laps but his best was only slightly slower than Irvine at 1m23.320s. The team completed nearly 700 miles of running.

Third fastest was Giancarlo Fisichella's Benetton-Supertec with the Italian lapping in 1m23.41s after 170 laps. Alexander Wurz was only able to test for two days because of a gearbox problem and he managed only 79 laps with a best of 1m24.26s. The pair completed 685 miles of running.

Jordan had only one car and Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Jarno Trulli did a day and a half each in the car. Frentzen completed 102 laps with a best of 1m23.507s, while Trulli was delayed by a gearbox problem and did only 57 laps, although his best lap was a 1m23.710s. The Jordan team's total mileage was only 435 miles.

Williams had planned to run two cars on all three days of the test but Jenson Button's injury and the fact that Bruno Junqueira was involved in Formula 3000 testing at Valencia meant that Ralf Schumacher was by himself on the first day. In the course of the three days he did a total of 120 laps with a best of 1m23.890s while Junqueira did the last two days, completing 120 laps with a best of 1m24.460s. The team's total testing mileage was a respectable 660 miles.

The McLaren team was in action on all three days with two cars and the team was clearly not going for times. Mika Hakkinen did the first day of the test, completing 49 laps and setting a best of 1m24.435s. He then handed the car over to David Coulthard who completed 123 laps in the final two days, setting a best of 1m24.00s. Olivier Panis did all three days in the second McLaren, completing 143 laps with a best of 1m23.98s. The McLaren team completed 865 miles of running, having more tires available that most of its rivals.

Sauber had only one driver in action, Mika Salo suffering from a sore thumb left over after an accident at Barcelona two weeks ago. Pedro Diniz did all three days of the test and completed 140 laps to record a best of 1m24.060s. He lost some time after a rear wing failure.

Prost Grand Prix had one car and was trying to solve the electronic problems it has been having in recent weeks. Jean Alesi did two days of testing and managed a total of 69 laps with a best of 1m25.90s while Nick Heidfeld completed 58 laps during his day of testing and recorded a lap of 1m24.39s.

Bringing up the rear was British American Racing which ran only one car for three days. Ricardo Zonta did the first with a best lap of 1m26.134s after 73 laps while Jacques Villeneuve did 139 laps during his two days with a best of 1m24.75s. The team was happy that the car was reliable but were worried that it was not quick.

Ferrari ran parallel tests at Mugello and Fiorano with Rubens Barrichello in action on Thursday at Mugello in the second completed F1-2000. The Brazilian did the initial shakedown runs and then two good days of testing, completing 148 laps (nearly 500 miles) with a best lap of 1m24.997s.

On Friday Michael Schumacher went into action at Fiorano, spending most of the day trying out starts. The following day he was at Mugello for a few laps but then went back at Fiorano to test his starting with an old F399. He completed only 50 laps all week.

Arrows and Minardi were in Barcelona at the start of the week, finishing off the previous week's testing. Both teams announced themselves to be happy with progress being made. Arrows will be in action this week at Silverstone before the cars are shipped to Australia on Thursday. Minardi will run this week at Mugello.

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