FEBRUARY 24, 1997
McLaren blitzes Barcelona record
MIKA HAKKINEN lapped the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona last week in a time of 1m17.70s, in his McLaren-Mercedes MP4-12 - carving a remarkable 0.68s off the best lap achieved at the track this winter by Olivier Panis in his Ligier-Mugen Honda JS45 10 days previously.
Hakkinen's lap was nearly three seconds under Damon Hill's pole position at the track for last June's Spanish Grand Prix. McLaren says that Hakkinen set his time on the tires which the team will use in Melbourne and that he and David Coulthard completed two race distances before the test ended on Thursday. Coulthard ended up with a best lap of 1m18.2s, despite engine problems.
Also testing at Barcelona last week was Sauber with Johnny Herbert and Nicola Larini putting some serious mileage on the new Sauber Petronas C16. The new car seems to have potential if it can be made to run reliably.