Ferrari top Magny Cours test times
At the end of a successful three day test programme at Magny Cours in preparation for next weekend's French Grand Prix, Eddie Irvine topped the time sheets with a best time of 1:15.981 secs, the only driver to break 1:16.0 seconds during the test which was run in hot, sunny conditions.
Irvine, who only ran the last two days of the test had a trouble free two days completing his test programme which included aerodynamic and mechanical set-up for the forthcoming race, Irvine was quickest on both days and also set the fastest time of the week, on Friday.
Michael Schumacher was working mainly on engine development running the same 048B engine which the team used in qualifying for the Canadian GP. He ran alone for Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro on Wednesday working on chassis and aerodynamic set- up as well as the engine programme. Some engine problems on Thursday forced Schumacher in for an engine change after 40 laps before returning to the track in the afternoon for another 29 laps for the day. On Friday he ran another 65 laps before he had to stop early with another engine problem on the replacement 048B unit.
Despite the problems, Schumacher was third fastest overall for the week and described himself as "rather pleased" with the performance of the cars at Many Cours. Luca Badoer gave two of the French Grand Prix cars a shakedown at Fiorano on Saturday before they were shipped to France for the race.
McLaren drivers swap cars
David Coulthard and Mika Hakkinen had a busy time at Magny Cours, the McLaren team trying different unspecified new parts on their cars with both drivers swapping chassis to try back- to-back comparisons under the same track conditions. Coulthard took the second fastest time of the week on Friday with a 1:17.123 secs after running 98 laps, Hakkinen fourth fastest with a best of 1:17.245 secs on Thursday which saw him run 116 laps for the day. On Friday Coulthard ran 96 laps, while Hakkinen left at Mid-day after running 40 laps.
Hill on his own for Jordan
With Heinz-Harald Frentzen recovering at home in Monaco from his Canadian Grand Prix crash, the Jordan team had only Damon Hill carrying out their pre-French GP test at Magny Cours, Hill only starting the test on Thursday having announced his retirement at the end of the season on Wednesday. He carried out a lengthy test programme of revised chassis and aerodynamic parts as well as engine testing for Mugen Honda. He ended up eighth fastest for the week with a best of 1:18.27 secs.
Three drivers for Benetton
Laurent Redon Joined Alexander Wurz and Giancarlo Fisichella at the Benetton team in Magny Cours, Redon only running the first day of the test with a best time of 1:20.217 secs. Wurz, who only started testing on Wednesday afternoon ran race set-ups the first day and ended up eighth fastest for the week when his Friday practice was interrupted by an engine failure.
Wurz's car also suffered and engine failure on Friday morning, the Austrian not running for the afternoon session having set his best time on Thursday with a 1:17.524 secs on a light fuel load.
Williams try revised suspension
The Williams team tried a revised rear suspension on Ralf Schumacher's car in Magny Cours, the German struggling to find a good set-up for the track spinning three times in the first two days. He was also comparing the standard and new wider front tyres from Bridgestone. He set his best time on Thursday with a 1:17.515 secs. Alex Zanardi was over a second off the German's pace, the Italian working on engine mapping for Supertec as well as chassis set-up.
Herbert and Barrichello test for Stewart
Rubens Barrichello ran only the first two days for the Stewart team, Johnny Herbert running all three to set the quickest time of the two at 1:17.62 secs, fifth fastest time of the week. Both drivers concentrated on set-up for the race and tyre wear calculations, team manager Andy Miller saying after wards, "This test has provided us with a lot of information which we will feed into the simulator to further improve our car for the race."
"We have found a good balance to allow us to run at a good pace in the race," he added.
Prost tries new developments
The Prost team tried many new developments at Magny Cours, some of which proved so hard to fit that only on Wednesday that Trulli did not run at all. Olivier Panis only managed 46 laps the first day for the same reasons. On Thursday Trulli stopped early with a gearbox problem, his best time of the week on Friday only 1:18.306 secs, Panis setting a best of 1:18.630 secs.
Diniz and Alesi for Sauber
Pedro Diniz and Jean Alesi concentrated on finding good race set-up for their "standard" Saubers in Magny Cours, Diniz testing on his own on Wednesday before being joined by Alesi on Thursday when there was a second car available. Alesi did only 24 laps te first day due to more transmission troubles, while Diniz completed 68 laps. On Friday Alesi set a best of 1:18.776 secs, a tenth slower than he had gone of Thursday.
Diniz was also quicker on Thursday with a best of 1:18.603 secs, his best of Friday a 1:18.994 secs.
Arrows stay at home
Once again the Arrows team remained back at Base during the test, the team planning to shake their race cars down in Santa Pod on Monday before leaving for France.
Minardi test in Italy
The Minardi team tested their car at the Italian Varaino track near Milan where test driver Gastone Mezzacane was due to try some aerodynamic tests on the long straight.
BAR in Magny Cours
The BAR team ran three days in Magny Cours, Zonta the first day before being joined by Villeneuve for the last two days. Zonta set a best time of 1:19.02 secs on Thursday and was bettered by Villeneuve on Friday with a 1:18.052 secs, Zonta improving to 1:18.69 secs.