You can’t imagine it now though there was a time a lot of drivers tested in the Formula One. Or teams tested in between races to test new aerodynamics or new engines. Or just to cash extra money by letting unknown drivers, who will never arrive, experience the Formula 1.
As many of these drivers are long forgotten, and there isn’t a real overview of the test drivers, its all bits and pieces. It though well why not? Here are the drivers who tested with a F1 car in 1996.
1996 is a new era for Ferrari with their new star driver Michael Schumacher and Eddie Irvine. The team appeared with the F310 on the grid powered by their new V10 engine. While Renault would dominate the season, Ferrari showed what the future would bring in the Formula 1.
Michael Schumacher: Tested with the Ferrari F310.
Eddie Irvine: Tested with the Ferrari F310.
Gianni Morbidelli: Tested for the first time with the F310 with a “high” nose. Happened at Fiorano.
Nicola Larini: Tested with the Ferrari F310 at Fiorano before the Hungarian Grand Prix.
Mild Seven Benetton Renault
A new year with a new drivers duo. Gerhard Berger and Jean Alesi, who knew each other from their Ferrari years, were the new drivers for the team. A lot had changed for 1996. Key persons left with Schumacher to Ferrari. With ten podiums the team did a great job though compared to previous years it was not their best season. The team appeared with the Benetton B196 powered by the Renault V10 on the grid.
Jean Alesi: Tested with the Benetton B196.
Gerhard Berger: Tested with the Benetton B196.
Vincenzo Sospiri: Tested with the Benetton B196 at Silverstone.
Jarno Trulli: Tested with the Benetton B196.
Alexander Wurz: Tested with the Benetton B196 on the 14th of November at Estoril.
Alessandro Nannini: On the 25th of November 1996 Nannini tested with the Benetton B196 at Estoril. It was a test-drive offered by his old team.
Giancarlo Fisichella: Tested in late season with the Benetton B196 at Estoril.
Rothmans Williams Renault
The team to beat for the season. With Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve they had an strong drivers duo. The team appeared with the Renault FW18 powered by the Renault V10 engines. It would be the last year for the team they would shown their domination in the Formula one.
Damon Hill: Tested with the Williams FW18.
Jacques Villeneuve: Tested with the Williams FW18.
Riccardo Patrese: In the Autumn of 1996 Patrese tested two days with the FW18.
Heinz-Harald Frentzen: Tested with the Williams FW18.
David Cook: Tested with the FW18 on the 5th of November 1996 at Silverstone for winning the Formula Renault championship in the UK.
Jean-Christophe Boullion: Tested with the Williams FW18 in November 1996 at Brands-Hatch.
Marlboro McLaren Mercedes
The second season of the team they were powered by Mercedes. The team appeared with the MP4/11 on the grid. Though due to inconsistent results the team came during the season with the MP4/11B on the grid. Mika Häkkinen and David Coulthard were the drivers for the team. It would be also the last year that Marlboro would be the sponsor for McLaren.
Mika Häkkinen: Tested with the MP4/11 and the MP4/11B.
David Coulthard: Tested with the MP4/11 and the MP4/11B.
Ralf Schumacher: Tested with the McLaren MP4/11 at Silverstone.
Alain Prost: Tested with the McLaren MP4/11 in pre-season testing at Jerez.
Jan Magnussen: Tested with the McLaren MP4/10B at Estoril in January 1996.
Ligier Gauloises Blondes
It would be the last year for Ligier to appear on the grid as team. Later in the season Alain Prost purchased Ligier. They appeared with the JS43 on the grid powered by the Mugen-Honda V10 engine. The car wasn’t good though due to the insane race in Monaco Oliver Panis managed to win the Grand Prix. The other driver for the team was Pedro Diniz who came from Forti.
Olivier Panis: Tested with the Ligier JS43.
Pedro Diniz: Tested with the Ligier JS43.
Shinji Nakano: Is said to have tested with the JS43 in late season, due to his connections I assume with Mugen-Honda.
Jacques Laffite: Tested with the Ligier JS43.
Kelvin Burt: Is said to have tested with the Ligier JS43. Got no proof for it.
Kenny Bräck: The winner of the Indy500 tested with the Ligier JS43.
Derek Daly: Seems to have tested in 1996 for Ligier as well, like in 1995.
Benson & Hedges Total Jordan Peugeot
Jordan had a decent year in 1996 besides their unreliable Peugeot engine. The team appeared with the Jordan 196 on the grid powered by the Peugeot V10 engine. Rubens Barrichello and Martin Brundle were the drivers for the team. Most interesting that season. Nigel Mansell tested with the Jordan 196 during the season.
Rubens Barrichello: Tested with the Jordan 196.
Martin Brundle: Tested with the Jordan 196.
Nigel Mansell: Nigel Mansell tested with the Jordan 196 at Barcelona the 9th and 11th of November 1996. There were rumours, after McLaren, that Mansell was interested to race for the team in 1997. The only problem is he asked too much for a salary.
Gianni Morbidelli: Tested the Jordan 196 in Estoril, Monza, Silverstone and Jerez.
Fabrizio de Simone: It is said that Fabrizio tested with the Ferrari 196. He was the son of the owner of Uliveto.
Ralf Schumacher: Tested with the Jordan 196 at Estoril and Silverstone.
Giancarlo Fisichella: Tested with the Jordan 196 at Estoril.
Jean-Christophe Boullion: Tested with the Jordan 196 at Estoril.
Colin McRae: Tested on the 5th of August 1996 at Silverstone with a Jordan 195 with the 1996 livery on it.
Red Bull Sauber Ford
1996 was as average Sauber season, the team scored some points and scored a podium finish. The team appeared with the C15 on the grid fitted with the Ford Zetec-R V10 engine. While Johnny Herbert and Heinz-Harald Frentzen were the drivers for the team.
Johnny Herbert: Tested with the Sauber C15.
Heinz-Harald Frentzen: Tested with the Sauber C15.
John Watson: Tested on the 3th of August 1996 with the Sauber C15 on the A1 Ring. Basically it was a demo run. Best time was 1m24.48s.
Alexander Wurz: Tested with the Sauber C15 at the A1 Ring.
Jonathan Palmer: Tested on the 3th of August 1996 with the Sauber C15 on the A1 Ring. Basically it was a demo run. Best time was 1m25.33s.
Marc Surer: Tested on the 3th of August 1996 with the Sauber C15 on the A1 Ring. Basically it was a demo run. Best time was 1m27.43s.
Nicola Larini: It’s said that Nicola Larini tested with the Sauber C15.
This was probably the teams worse season in the Formula one with scoring only one point. Has to be said the team was to reform into the Arrows team once again. The team appeared with the FA17 powered by the Hart V8 engine on the grid. Ricardo Rosset and Jos Verstappen were the drivers for the team.
Ricardo Rosset: Tested with the Footwork FA17.
Jos Verstappen: Tested with the Footwork FA17.
Kelvin Burt: Tested with the Footwork FA17 in October at Silverstone, at that time already Arrows.
Kenny Bräck: Tested with the Footwork FA17 at Silverstone.
David Brabham: Did some aero testing with the Footwork FA17 at Santa Pod.
Pedro Diniz: Tested in late season with the Footwork/Arrows FA17 in Silverstone.
Jörg Müller: Tested on the 25th of September with the FA17 at Estoril.
The last year for Tyrrell they managed to score in multiple races points. The team was even disqualified for the European Grand Prix that year. Tyrrell appeared with the 024 on the grid powered by the Yamaha V10 engine, which was basically a Hart engine. Ukyo Katayama and Mika Salo were the drivers for the team.
Ukyo Katayama: Tested with the Tyrrell 024.
Mika Salo: Tested with the Tyrrell 024.
Emmanuel Collard: Tested with the Tyrrell 024 at Silverstone.
Minardi had some great seasons in the 1990s sadly 1996 was the begin of terrible period. The team appeared in 1996 with the Minardi 195B on the grid powered by the unreliable Ford V8 engine. While chassis was good the team had not enough funding to keep on developing it. Which resulted in poor results in the races. Pedro Lamy drove all the races for the team. While Tarso Marques, Giancarlo Fisichella and Giovanni Lavaggi shared the cockpit of car 21.
Pedro Lamy: Tested with the Minardi M195B.
Giancarlo Fisichella: Tested with the Minardi M195B.
Tarso Marques: Tested with the Minardi M195B.
Giovanni Lavaggi: Tested with the Minardi M195B.
Esteban Tuero: On the 28th of October Tuero tested with the Minardi M195B at Misano. Best time 1:17,06s.
João Barbosa: On the 28th of October Barbosa tested with the Minardi M195B at Misano. Best time 1:18,22s.
Andrea Boldrini: on the 28th of October Boldrini tested with the Minardi M195B at Misano. Best time 1:17,83s.
Forti Grand Prix
Forti made their debut in 1995 with the well less competitive FG01. For 1996 the team appeared with a new car, some sort, the FG01B had the high nose as almost all the teams used in 1995. The team had a new sponsor Shannon which resulted in another “new” car the FG03 which was in a Green and white livery. However, Shannon never paid and eventually resulted in an exit of the team during the season. The team was powered by the Ford Zetec-R V8 engine. While Luca Badoer and Andrea Montermini were the drivers.
Luca Badoer: Tested with the Forti FG01B and the Forti FG03.
Andrea Montermini: Tested with the Forti FG01B and the Forti FG03.
Frank Lagorce: Was the test driver for Forti, however it is unsure if he tested with the cars.
Arrows FA17 Bridgestone testcar
In 1996 Bridgestone was testing their tyres for the Formula One as the company was to enter the as a supplier. To do so Bridgestone used one of the FA17s from TWR Arrows. The car was still powered by the Yamaha engine. Several drivers tested with this car.
Aguri Suzuki: Was asked by Bridgestone if he would test the tyres for the team.
Tarso Marques: Tested with the Bridgestone testcar.
Pedro Diniz: Tested the Bridgestone tyres in Imola.
Jos Verstappen: Tested with the Bridgestone testcar in Japan.
David Brabham: Is said to have tested the Bridgestone tyres as well on the FA17.
Ligier JS41 Bridgestone testcar
besides arrows also one of the Ligiers was used to test the tyres. Bridgestone used one of the JS41’s from previous season. Jos Verstappen and Damon Hill did most of the testing with this car. There are a bunch of documents which show the progression the team made. Also Aguri Suzuki tested with this car.
Dams Ford GD01
Like in 1995 the team was still working on the car. Their plan was to have the car debuted during the 1996 season or in 1997. Their main problem during the development of the car was the constant lack of proper financial support. Which resulted eventually in a car that look heavy and outdated. Could it be competitive at all? Probably not. Eventually after some testing in the season the team stopped with their project.
Erik Comas: Tested the Dams GD01 at Paul Ricard.
Jan Lammers: Is said to have tested the Dams GD01 at Paul Ricard as well.
Dome Mugen-Honda F105
Dome was working on their own Formula One challenger to debut in 1997. They made their announcement the 18th of September 1995. A year later the team completed the F105 and started testing the car on many circuits by several, mostly Japanese, drivers. The F105 was designed Akiyoshi Oku while Dome’s sponsor in 1995, the TRY group and the VIP computer company, supported the project. Former Minardi team manager Tadashi Sasaki would oversee the team. During testing in Aida, which was a huge event, the car was fitted with the 7 Eleven colours.
Shinji Nakano: Tested with the Dome F105 at Aida for a huge crowd.
Marco Apicella: Tested on the 8th of April 1996 for the first time with the F105 at Suzuka.
Keiji Matsumoto: Tested with the F105 at Suzuka.
Naoki Hattori: Tested with the F105 a couple of times.
Why do I post this here? Well there are strong rumours that Larrousse did skip 1995 so they could regroup to join the grid again in 1996. It is said as well that there were some plans to create the LH96. Christophe Bouchut and Éric Bernard were named again as the drivers for the team.