DECEMBER 16, 1996
SIX Grand Prix teams were in action last week at the Circuit de Catalunya, near Barcelona, conducting tire testing and working on parts which will appear on the 1997 cars.
Gerhard Berger set the fastest time for Benetton - recording a 1m19.64s in the course of his 210 laps of the circuit over four days. The Austrian was concentrating on Goodyear tire development and was not using the new Renault engine. JeanÊAlesi also ran for all four days, doing a lot of set-up work and completed 156 laps with a best of 1m20.59s.
Eddie Irvine was fourth fastest, recording a lap of 1m20.61s in the course of his 146 laps. He worked on the Ferrari hydraulic differential, composite suspension, Goodyear tires and the Ferrari brakes. The team returned to Italy on Thursday but is expected to run at Fiorano today and tomorrow with test driver Nicola Larini. Michael Schumacher is on holiday.
David Coulthard was fifth fastest for McLaren, running 125 laps in three days doing Goodyear and electronic development work. His best lap was a 1m20.82s. Mika Hakkinen completed 100 laps but his best was only a 1m21.04s.
Jordan had a lot of media interest as a result of its decision to test Nigel Mansell but Ralf Schumacher did most of the work, running 137 laps in three days to record a best of 1m22.51s. Mansell's best was 1m22.97s after only 52 laps.
Also in action was the Arrows team - busy doing development work for Bridgestone. Pedro Diniz and Jorg Muller completed 173 laps over three days matching Ralf Schumacher's best times. It should be noted that Diniz was remarkably quick in the wet weather conditions on Thursday morning - confirming suggestions that Bridgestone has highly competitive wet weather rubber.