APRIL 15, 1996
McLaren has the most work to do and is expected to have Alain Prost, Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard all in action trying to solve the team's handling problems, which are being caused by inconsistent downforce. It seems that this problem can be partly overcome over one lap and so Mika Hakkinen's qualifying performances to date have been rather flattering to the car, but in race trim the cars have been unimpressive. McLaren's test team spent three days last week doing aerodynamic mapping work at the Idi Ada testing facility near Barcelona, in Spain, and another three days of testing - weather permitting - will mean that only Ferrari will have done as much running between the races. A good result is essential because at the moment McLaren morale is at rock bottom, with rumors circulating that team boss Ron Dennis's days in charge are numbered. Time will tell.
Tyrrell will run for two days: on Wednesday Mika Salo and Ukyo Katayama will run in their regular race cars, trying to establish good set-ups for the Nurburgring and Imola. They will be joined on Thursday by the team's new test driver EmmanuelÊCollard. The team would like to expand its testing commitments this year, but until more money can be found this will not be possible. The team's sponsor hunters are hoping that the Nurburgring and Monaco races - which will both suit the design of the car - will produce a breakthrough result to sell to potential investors.
Jordan will continue to work on the development of the promising 196 chassis and it is expected that test driver GianniÊMorbidelli will be given a few laps in addition to regular drivers Rubens Barrichello and Martin Brundle.
Following the recent take-over by Tom Walkinshaw's TWR Group, Arrows will benefit from an expanded testing program with Jos Verstappen due to run for two days in a brand new chassis - which will appear at Silverstone unpainted. The TWR men are expected to announce at some point that one or both of the Ligier test drivers, appointed when the team was running by TWR - Kelvin Burt and Kenny Brack - will be transferring to Arrows.