News Wrap-up for this Week's Testing
Hakkinen fastest for McLaren
Newly crowned F3000 Champion Nick Heidfeld joined Mika Hakkinen in Silverstone this week - David Coulthard taking his turn for a summer break. Heidfeld tested Tuesday and Wednesday before then trying the Prost-Peugeot on Thursday adding strength to the rumours that he will be driving for the Prost team next season.
"He drove really well and we were impressed," said a McLaren team member after Heidfeld had set a 1:28.46 secs on Wednesday which was interrupted by several rain showers in the afternoon after rain for much of Tuesday. Hakkinen set a best for the day of 1:28.06 secs. The team were working on Spa set-ups, Hakkinen getting down to the week's best of 1:26.02 secs during 35 laps on the final day on Thursday which remained cool but dry.
Frentzen tests for Jordan
Heinz-Harald Frentzen was testing alone for Jordan on Wednesday and Thursday only, the team using the mixed weather to try out different Spa configurations and tyre testing Bridgestone's two types of wet tyre. He was also trying some different brake material and aerodynamic set-ups for Spa and was not trying for a quick "Silverstone" time on his way to a best of 1:27,83 secs for the two days.
"With the data from last year we worked on specifics for this track like the heavy compression the car suffers at Eau Rouge where you either have to set the car up high or low but very stiff," said Trevor Foster. "We expect to have a good race in Spa - as good as last year's I hope," added Foster, the team scoring their historic one-two first win at last year's race.
Both Williams drivers at Silverstone
Both Ralf Schumacher and Alex Zanardi were testing for the Williams team at Silverstone over two days, the team working on different Spa solutions. On the first day (Wednesday) which was dry in the morning, Zanardi ran 40 laps with a best of 1:29.02 secs, Schumacher setting a best of 1:29.11 secs after 28 laps.
On Thursday Zanardi tried more tests with steel brakes which he prefers for 'feel' over the carbon brakes, while Schumacher tried different set-ups for Spa, both drivers ending up with similar times of 1:27.04 secs for Schumacher after 38 laps and Zanardi 1:27,17 in 46 laps although he was running more downforce for the brake tests. "The weather conditions over the past couple of days were ideal for us to prepare for Spa," said James Robinson.
Redon runs again for Benetton
Test driver Laurent Redon was back behind the wheel of the Benetton in Silverstone where he joined Alexander Wurz for a three day test concentrating on continuing the aerodynamic testing carried out by Redon in Lurcy-Levis before Hungary.
Wurz only ran 7 laps the first day because of rain, Redon 22 with a best of 1:31.78. On Thursday both drivers set similar times of 1:27.58.
Three drivers for Stewart
F3 driver Luciano Burti joined regular Stewart drivers Rubens Barrichello and Johnny Herbert in Silverstone, Burti managing a best of 1:32.01 secs in the wet the first day. Herbert took over on Wednesday running the Series 3 and 4 versions of the Ford CR-1 V10 setting a best of 1:28.55.
Barrichello carried out a similar programme on Thursday with a best of 1:26.108 secs just ahead of Herbert's 1:26.111 secs. Herbert was delayed by a minor water leak, all three drivers trying some suspension modifications and aerodynamic set-ups for Spa.
Diniz works on gearbox testing
Pedro Diniz tested alone for the Sauber team at Silverstone. He tried different front wing solutions as well as revised gearbox solutions in a bid to cure their reliability problems. He drove 46 laps despite the rain on Tuesday and then lost much of Wednesday while the engine was removed to cure a fuel pump problem. "The new gearbox strategy is definitely a step forward and we found some interesting new aerodynamic solutions," said Diniz who was quite encouraged with his 1:26.93 secs he set on Thursday.
Heidfeld impresses for Peugeot
Nick Heidfeld took over the Prost on Thursday running 32 laps for a best of 1:28.50 secs before being stopped by an hydraulic problem. The two previous days Oliver Panis had been testing for the team trying rain tyres and wet set-ups on Tuesday for a best of 1:30.71 secs after 54 laps. On Wednesday he ran 36 laps with a best of 1:30.38 secs, rain in the afternoon upsetting testing on a revised exhaust exit system.
Three Ferraris at Mugello
After being given the all clear by his doctors in Geneva to get back behind the wheel of a Formula One car, Michael Schumacher was expected to carry out a few laps in Mugello today (Friday). If he feels comfortable in these tests, he could be driving again in Spa next week, otherwise it looks almost certain he will return to his Marlboro-Ferrari for the Italian GP. He has been carrying out extensive fitness training at his home in Switzerland since the accident.
Mika Salo has been taking part in regular pre-Spa testing since Wednesday and was joined on Thursday by team-mate Eddie Irvine. Irvine did a best of 1:28.942 secs on Thursday with Salo getting down to 1:28.705 secs at the track that he had not driven before Wednesday when he ran 63 laps for a best of 1:30.648s. The public were allowed into the circuit on Wednesday, but the next two days were a closed test while the team worked on revised aerodynamic developments to be used in Belgium.
Arrows run at home
After missing most of the tests this year, the Arrows team took part in the Silverstone test with Tora Takagi running the first of two days testing on Wednesday. He set a best of 1:32.00 secs working on component testing for next year's car. Pedro de la Rosa took over on Thursday concentrating on a new active differential which the team hope to use for Spa. His best was a 1:28.79 secs on the dry track, the team encouraged by the test results. Arrows also announced the arrival of former Williams/Stewart aerodynamicist Eghbal Hamedy to their technical staff.
Minardi stay home
The Minardi team was the only one not to test this week, the team confident that there car will perform better in Spa than the last race as the track suits them better. Giancarlo Minardi was working on finding a new business partner for the team.
BAR runs both drivers
Both Jacques Villeneuve and Ricardo Zonta were testing for the BAR team at Silverstone, but were once again plagued by reliability problems. Villeneuve did a best of 1:30.28 secs on Wednesday, but left the track early on Thursday when a race simulation was stopped by hydraulic problems. Zonta managed only nine laps on Thursday before being stopped by clutch failure after posting a 1:29.36 secs best.