Panis back in action

OLIVIER PANIS was back in racing car last week and will begin testing a Prost-Mugen Honda on Tuesday. Panis spent two days last week completing nearly 100 laps of the smaller of the circuits at Paul Ricard at the wheel of a Dallara-Fiat Formula 3 car run by Winfield Racing, for which Olivier drove in 1991.

Olivier said that driving the car presented no physical problems for him and he is looking forward to getting back into a Grand Prix machine.

"I wanted to get slowly back in the rhythm like this for two reasons," he said. "Firstly to get used to the feeling of driving at speed again and secondly, of course, to ensure that everything was OK physically."

The Prost team will test from Tuesday to Friday at Magny-Cours, doing development work with a brand new gearbox which has been designed for 1998. The team is hoping that this unit will be fully reliable before the winter F1 testing ban begins after the final race of the season. The team is hoping to have its 1998 car ready to run in January.

The team has yet to decide at which race Olivier will return to action but it is likely to be either the Luxembourg GP on September 28 or at the Japanese GP on October 12.