Major F1 test starts at Barcelona next week

EVERY F1 team apart from Arrows and Minardi will be out at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya next week as the first major test of the 2002 season starts the countdown towards the opening Grand Prix in Melbourne on March 3rd.

Ferrari will be starting its program with two of last year's F2001s in the hands of test driver Luca Badoer and Luciano Burti, while McLaren has a pair of MP4/16B interim development cars which will be shared by David Coulthard, test driver Alexander Wurz and new recruit Kimi Raikkonen who will have his first outing as a McLaren-Mercedes team member on Tuesday.

The all-new McLaren-Mercedes MP4/17 will be officially unveiled at Barcelona on Saturday 19 January at an exclusive test session which, not being an official FIA test, will enable the team to take its own copyright-free television footage of the new car in action.

Another team running interim chassis at Barcelona next week includes Williams which will have a trio of FW23Cs on hand to be shared by a line-up of four drivers. Ralf Schumacher, Juan Pablo Montoya, Marc Gene and Antonio Pizzonia will all take turns at the wheel of the interim cars which will carry out Michelin tire testing and BMW engine development prior to the launch of the new FW24 which is provisionally scheduled for January 25 at Silverstone.

The new Jaguar R3 will also make its debut on Tuesday in the hands of Eddie Irvine, the same day on which Allan McNish takes the Toyota TF102 onto the track for the first time to see how the Japanese challenger shapes up against the opposition.

Renault F1 will have two of last year's Benetton B201s on hand to be shared by Jarno Trulli, Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso, while Felipe Massa will get his proper run in the Sauber C20 alongside Nick Heidfeld. The new Sauber C21 is expected to be unveiled in Switzerland on 25 January. There will also be last year's Jordan EJ-11s on hand for Giancarlo Fisichella and Takuma Sato.

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