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JULY 4, 2000

McLaren and Ferrari begin Mugello tussle

FORMULA ONE World Championship rivals Ferrari and McLaren began their two-way tussle in testing at Mugello on Tuesday - and it was McLaren who continued their recent dominance by topping the times.

Test drivers Luca Badoer, of Ferrari, and Olivier Panis, of McLaren, were on duty for the opening day of testing at Ferrari's base in Maranello.

Frenchman Panis gained the upper hand as he went over one second quicker than Badoer with a lap time of one minute and 27.730 seconds.

But the Ferrari driver defended his performance by explaining his 76 laps had been his first taste of the circuit.

"This was my first time I have driven a Ferrari on this track, which meant I had to learn and understand how the car handled here," said Badoer.

"I worked on the set up and the mechanical side of the car as well as doing some tire work. It was a good learning experience and a fine tuning day."