Ralf tops the bill at Jerez

APRIL 26, 1999

Ralf tops the bill at Jerez

RALF SCHUMACHER topped the timesheets during three days of testing last week at Jerez, the German Williams driver having recorded a best lap of 1m24.232s after 180 laps of running. It was a good test for the Williams team - which has been struggling recently - but the times are not hugely relevant as it was clear that McLaren would have done quicker times if the team had stayed on for all three days of testing.

Schumacher and his team mate Alessandro Zanardi completed a total of 382 laps between them (1,045 miles) with the Italian doing 20 laps more than the German. Zanardi set the fifth fastest lap with a 1m24.742s but pronounced himself happy to have been able to run without problems.

McLaren was present on all three days of the test but ran only one car with David Coulthard doing the first two days. He lost a lot of time with an engine failure but managed to complete 84 laps in total over the two days with a best lap of 1m24.37s. Mika Hakkinen took over on the third day and completed 55 laps with a best of 1m24.746s.

Third fastest overall was Michael Schumacher in his Ferrari. He arrived in Jerez after a day of wet weather testing at Fiorano, during which he completed 134 laps (250 miles) with tanker trucks wetting the road surface. He then did all three days of the Jerez test, completing 192 laps (530 miles). His best time was a 1m24.569s. Eddie Irvine did only two days of tests and did 87 laps (240 miles) with a best of 1m25.685s.

Benetton had Alexander Wurz and test driver Laurent Redon in action in Spain, as Giancarlo Fisichella missed the testing as he waited in Rome for the birth of his first child. Wurz completed 122 laps (335 miles) while Redon did 103 laps (283 miles). The Austrian's best time was 1m24.645s while Redon did not go for a fast time and did a 1m27.270s.

Prost Grand Prix kept up the pressure of testing with both Jarno Trulli and Olivier Panis in action. The Italian completed 130 laps and Panis did 177 as they worked to find more grip with the team's new front suspension system. Trulli's best lap was a 1m24.647s while Panis managed a 1m25.179s.

Stewart Grand Prix had a troubled time with more engine problems with the Ford V10. This meant that Rubens Barrichello managed only 122 laps in his three days and Johnny Herbert did 112. Barrichello's best lap was a 1m25.179s while Herbert's best was a 1m25.368s.

British American Racing ran Jacques Villeneuve on all three days of the test but once again there were problems and Jacques completed only 121 laps. His best time was a respectable 1m25.247s. On the first day of the test Mika Salo ran the second BAR, completing 51 laps with a best of 1m27.174s. This car was then handed over to Patrick Lemarie who almost immediately suffered a hydraulic failure but who ended his two days of running having completed 80 laps with a best of 1m27.331s.

Jordan had a disappointing test with Heinz-Harald Frentzen suffering clutch trouble and Damon Hill having an engine failure and spinning off. Frentzen completed 130 laps with a best of 1m25.478s, while Hill did 172 laps with a best of 1m26.218s. The Jordan team also ran Japanese driver Shinji Nakano on one day and he completed 39 laps with a best of 1m29.105s. This gave the team a total for the week of 938 miles.

Minardi ran both Luca Badoer and Marc Gene for a day and a half each, the Italian is fully recovered from his fractured hand and completed 60 laps while Gene did 80 laps, setting a best of 1m26.290s. Badoer's best was 1m28.465s but he could have gone faster.

Sauber was in action with two cars on two days, trying out a new suspension system but there were more gearbox troubles for the team and the two drivers completed a total of 138 laps between them. Pedro Diniz was the faster of the two with a best of 1m26.341s, while Jean Alesi lapped no faster than 1m26.512s.

The only team missing from the action was Arrows which was running Pedro de la Rosa at Lurcy-Levis and Tora Takagi at Silverstone. The Lurcy-Levis test saw de la Rosa completing 340 miles of running while Takagi did the same distance atÊSilverstone. The Japanese driver was back at Silverstone at the end of the week for shakedown runs.

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