The nascent Honda team continued to dominate proceedings at the Jerez test, finishing on top of the timesheets for the fourth day in succession.

The team's test driver, Jos Verstappen, described the Dallara-built, Mugen V10-powered, chassis as the best he had ever driven, and helped to prove that the Japanese marque would be one to be reckoned with when it enters F1 full-time in 2000.

(The car was running very well, and we did good laps times right out of the box,) Verstappen enthused, (Although the 1999-spec tyres are hard, it feels good. The handling, power and downforce are the best I've experienced.)

Despite having to deny rumours that the car was running underweight for publicity purposes, Honda's head of racing Rupert Mainwaring played down his team's impressive public debut. (It's a reasonable start,) he said, (but we don't know what the others [Benetton, BAR and Stewart] have been doing. They do appear to have had lots of trouble, so I don't believe that is as quick as they can go.)

Behind Verstappen, Ricardo Zonta once again outpaced BAR team-mate Jacques Villeneuve, despite only having his third outing in the car. Rubens Barrichello and Johnny Herbert broke some comfort to the Stewart team by lining up in fourth and fifth places, beating off the challenge of Benetton drivers Giancarlo Fisichella, Alex Wurz and Laurent Redon.

Leading performances (26 January):

Jos Verstappen Honda-Honda 1min 25.18secs

Ricardo Zonta BAR-Supertec 1min 26.19secs

Jacques Villeneuve BAR-Supertec 1min 26.39secs

Rubens Barrichello Stewart-Ford 1min 26.63secs

Johnny Herbert Stewart-Ford 1min 27.16secs

Giancarlo Fisichella Benetton-Playlife 1min 27.20secs

Alex Wurz Benetton-Playlife 1min 28.05secs

Laurent Redon Benetton-Playlife 1min 28.25secs



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