Testing news wrap-up
Testing news wrap-up
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Sunday January 31st, 1999

McLaren still ahead
Although the McLaren team took part in the recent Barcelona testing with their 1998 MP4/13 chassis equipped with this year's 4-groove front tyres, it did not stop them setting the fastest times. Hakkinen ran the car on Tuesday to set a 1m 22,55 best during 76 laps of running and then improved on Wednesday to a best of 1m 21,74 secs, the best time of the day.

David Coulthard set a best of 1m 23,80 secs during 66 laps the first day and then 1m 22,17 secs the second day to take the second best time of the day behind his team-mate. Having achieved what they set out to do, which was to test parts to be used on the new car, the team left on wednesday evening, not taking part in the final day's testing. The new McLaren-Mercedes is expected to be launched in Barcelona on February 8th.

The new Williams tests in Barcelona
After its presentation on Monday morning at Barcelona's Catalunya circuit, the new Williams FW21 wasted little time to begin testing on the same circuit, Ralf Schumacher running 10 shakedown laps and immediately getting down to a best of 1m 23,17 secs. On Tuesday it was Zanardi's turn to drive the new car and he got down to 1m 23,0 secs. Schumacher took over the 1998 FW20 chassis Tuesday and Wednesday, but had electrical problems and hardly ran at all on Wednesday, while Zanardi set a 1m 23,08 secs with the new car.

Schumacher got back into the new car for the final day on Thursday to a set a best of 1m 22,92 secs, the best time of the day with the absence of McLaren. He said afterwards that he was very happy with his new car ,"It goes much better than the old one and has a much bigger potential," said the German.

New B199 makes its debut in Jerez
The previous weekend the Benetton were carrying out their initial test programme of their new B199 chassis at Spain's Jerez circuit where both Fisichella and Wurz ran the car. Wurz was lucky to escape unharmed from a high-speed spin due to a wing failure on the car. The team's new test driver Laurent Redon also drove a few laps and all three drivers were very positive about the initial performance of their new car.

New Sauber-Petronas C18 promising
Both Alesi and Diniz ran in Barcelona with the new Sauber C18 which proved to be very promising by the end of the test. The first day Alesi was delayed by electrical problems but the team worked long hours to sort out the problems for Wednesday when Alesi set a best of 1m 23,01 secs. Diniz took over on Thursday and , despite a spin, got down to 1m 24,36 secs after some 56 laps total. The two drivers said they were delighted with their new car and in particular the performance of the 1998 spec Ferrari engine , more flexible and powerful than their former engine.

Stewart happy with their Jerez test
The Stewart team said they were happy with their first serious test session of their new SF03 chassis in Jerez.It was the first time that the new SF03 chassis and the latest Ford CR1 engine had run on a dry circuit. Despite a minor lubrification problem , both Rubens Barrichello and Johnny Herbert were enchanted with their new car. Barrichello set the second fastest time of the day on the Sunday and declared that ," I was very impressed by the way the car reacted to changes. It's traction is a lot better than last year's car and also an improvement under braking."

Track debut of the Prost AP02 delayed
With certain parts of the new Prost AP02 built in England at John Barnard's B# Technology not delivered in time, the car was not sent to Barcelona for testing after its unveiling at the Prost factory in Guyancourt on Monday morning. Instead, it made its initial testing at Magny Cours on Friday and will continue testing in early February at the same circuit.

Zonta the fastest in Jerez
The testing of the new BAR chassis in Jerez went well with Ricardo Zonta the fastest driver on the first two days ahead of his team leader Jacques Villeneuve. In particular, on Tuesday , he set a best of 1m 24,95 secs, the best time of the week for all the cars present. However, the prototype Honda, driven by Jos Verstappen, which had been quickest until Monday, left the track on Monday evening.

The Bar team announced that they have signed the Frenchman Patrick Lemarie as test driver. The team are also waiting impatiently for the verdict of the arbitration court which met on the 30th of January in London to discuss the team's project to run their cars in two different sponsor liveries. The decision should be announced on Monday or Tuesday. The next test for the team should take place in Kyalami from the 12th to the 17th of February where a single car will be driven by Villeneuve for the first three days and Zonta the final two.

Honda dominate in Jerez
The prototype RA99 chassis dominated the Jerez test while they were running, Jos Verstappen driving for three days and setting the fastest time each day. It was the team's first test against other cars following their initial testing at Dallara's Varano circuit. Verstappen's best time was a 1m 25,10 secs . Run by former Tyrrell team manager Rupert Manwaring, the Honda test team is based at Bracknell near London.

The new Minardi makes its debut in Mugello
The Minardi M01 ran its first test laps at the Mugello circuit near Florence, the car being driven by Luca Badoer, loaned by Ferrari for the test until Minardi signs their drivers for 1999. The team is negotiating with three or four drivers , the Spaniard Gene, the Japanese Nakano and Ferrari test driver Badoer.

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