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Testing in France and Portugal

FERRARI and McLaren - two teams with high expectations for the coming F1 season - were both testing last week. Ferrari ran Michael Schumacher at Paul Ricard, while at Estoril McLaren ran David Coulthard and Alain Prost. Neither test was very successful because of bad weather sweeping the European continent.

At Paul Ricard, Schumacher had to abandon a race distance test because of fog, and other days of the test were disrupted by streaming rain, which caused serious flooding in the Var region. Schumacher was testing the new V10 engine in the back of a 412T2 chassis, but the delays were such that the team decided to extend the test in an effort to get some sensible running.

It was a similar story for McLaren at Estoril where violent storms sweeping in from the Atlantic prevented any serious testing for most of the week. Friday was sunny and Coulthard got down to some serious testing, running a series of brake tests. Prost concentrated on electronics. The team decided to continue to test over the weekend, although the weather forecast was not promising. There were contingency plans for the team to stop off at Paul Ricard this week on the way back from Estoril.

Williams is expected to test at Estoril this week with Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve being joined by test driver Jean-Christophe Boullion who will shortly be confirmed for another season with the team. This will be the last Williams test before the new car arrives in early February. The team will be joined in Portugal by Jordan.

Sauber is expected to try the new Ford V10 engine for the first time at Paul Ricard this week, with both Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Johnny Herbert expected to drive.

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