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 1997.
Danka Arrows Yamaha
The Arrows team gained the number one and two in 1997 as they managed to get Damon Hill on board. Pedro Diniz was the other driver from the team who came from Ligier and showed some decent progression since his debut in 1995 with Forti. The unreliable Yamaha V10 engine powered the A18. While the hopes were high at stake, the team’s best result was a second place. A bunch of drivers tested for the team during the season.
Damon Hill: Tested with the Arrows A18.
Pedro Diniz: Tested with the Arrows A18.
Mika Salo: Tested at the end of the season with the Arrows A18 at Silverstone.
Jorg Müller: Tested with the Arrows A18 at Silverstone.
Martin Brundle: Tested with the Arrows A18 at Silverstone.
Darren Turner: Tested with the Arrows A18.
Rothmans Williams Renault
This season would be the last season that Williams won the drivers title with Jacques Villeneuve and the constructor title. Next to Villeneuve was Heinz-Harald Frentzen that would race for the team. The Renault V10 engine powered the Williams FW19. What stays interesting is the fact that many drivers tested for the team.
Jacques Villeneuve: Tested with the Williams FW19.
Heinz-Harald Frentzen: Tested with the Williams FW19.
Marc Hynes: Tested on the 19th of October 1997 with the Williams FW19, he got the test because he was the champion of the Formula Renault UK Championship.
Juan Pablo Montoya: Tested with the Williams FW19 at Catalunya the first and second of October. His best time was a 1;19.22.
Nicola Minassian: Tested with the Williams FW19 at Catalunya the first and second of October. His best time was a 1:21.43
Max Wilson: Tested with the Williams FW19 at Catalunya the first and second of October. His best time was a 1:20.40.
Soheil Ayari: Tested with the Williams FW19 at Catalunya the first and second of October. His best time was a 1:21.15.
Jean-Christophe Bouillon: Tested with the Williams FW19 at Silverstone.
Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro
Perhaps 1997 was the year that Ferrari was positioning themselves to be the next team to beat for the titles. The team appeared on the tracks with the Ferrari F310B with Michael Schumacher and Eddie Irvine as their drivers. Powered by their own V10 engine.
Michael Schumacher: Tested with the Ferrari F310B.
Eddie Irvine: Tested with the Ferrari F310B.
Nicola Larini: Tested with the Ferrari F300 at Fiorano fitted with the 1998 spec tyres, better known as the grooved tyres.
Gianni Morbidelli: Tested with the Ferrari F310B.
Mild Seven Benetton Renault
Benetton once the team to beat, was now the team that was driving around in the sub top. The Benetton B197 was in the hands of Jean Alesi and Gerhard Berger successful. However, far from the top they only were two years earlier. Alexander Wurz replaced Berger for a couple of races afer he felt ill during the Canadian Grand Prix. The teams best result was Gerhard Bergers victory at Spielberg.The Renault V10 engine powered the B197.
Jean Alesi: Tested with the Benetton B197,
Gerhard Berger: Tested with the Benetton B197.
Martin Brundle: Tested with the Benetton B197 at Silverstone.
Jarno Trulli: Tested with the Benetton B197 at Catalunya.
Alexander Wurz: Tested with the Benetton B197.
Emanuele Pirro: Is said to have tested with the Benetton B197.
Oliver Gavin: Tested with the Benetton B197 at Silverstone.
West McLaren Mercedes
The team that would become the next team to be beaten for the titles. After two years of building up the team, they were ready to fight for the titles. However, their MP4/12 lacked the reliability to be a real threat for Williams. Mika Häkkinen and David Coulthard were the driver for the team. The Mercedes V10 powered the car.
Mika Häkkinen: Tested with the MP4/12.
David Coulthard: Tested with the MP4/12.
Jamie Davis: Tested with the McLaren MP4/11 at Silverstone. He got the test for winning the McLaren/Autosport Young Driver Award in 1995.
Darren Turner: Tested with the McLaren MP4/11 at Silverstone. He got the test for winning the McLaren/Autosport Young Driver Award in 1996.
Nick Heidfeld: Tested with the McLaren MP4/11 at Silverstone. At that time he was the protégé for Mercedes.
Benson & Hedges Jordan Peugeot
The team from Eddie Jordan was on its way to the top. The team would score a couple of podium finishes and had a more or less future proof drivers duo with Ralf Schumacher and Giancarlo Fisichella. Little did they know they would lose both drivers at the end of the season. The team appeared with the Jordan 197, with that beautiful livery, on the grid powered by the more or less reliable Peugeot V10 engine.
Ralf Schumacher: Tested with the Jordan 197.
Giancarlo Fisichella: Tested with the Jordan 197.
Pedro de la Rosa: Tested with the Jordan 197 on the 4th of December 1997.
Ricardo Zonta: Tested a couple of times with the Jordan 197.
Darren Turner: Is said to have tested with the Jordan 197.
Prost Gauloises Blondes
1997 is first year that Prost Grand Prix appeared on the grid, though it would be the last year a Ligier was on the grid. Already in 1996, the deal was made to sell the Ligier team to Alain Prost who would become now a team boss. Prost Grand Prix appeared with the JS45 on the grid. The car scored a few podium. The Mugen-Honda engine powered the JS45. While Oliver Panis and Shinji Nakano were the drivers. Trulli replaced Panis for a couple of races as he got injured.
Olivier Panis: Tested with the Prost JS45.
Shinji Nakano: Tested with the Prost JS45.
Emmanuel Collard: Tested with the Prost JS45 at Paul Ricard.
Jarno Trulli: Tested with the Prost JS45.
Red Bull Sauber Petronas
The team that always scored one podium and scored a couple of points. It is basically the story of the Sauber team from Peter Sauber in the 1990s. The team appeared with the C16 on the grid powered by the Petronas V10 engine. Johnny Herbert drove all the races for the team. While the second car saw several drivers. Nicola Larini did the first five races before he got replaced by Gianni Morbidelli and Norberto Fontana.
Johnny Herbert: Tested with the Sauber C16.
Nicola Larini: Tested with the Sauber C16.
Norberto Fontana: Tested with the Sauber C16.
Gianni Morbidelli: Tested with the Sauber C16.
Michael Schumacher: Tested with the Sauber C16 somewhere in September at Fiorano. He was asked to give his opinion about the car and what the team could improve.
PIAA Tyrrell Ford
The once mighty Tyrrell team, was in 1997 one of the teams that didn’t know if they would end the season. The team was financially struggling and it was unsure about its future. We all know what happened eventually. Via BAR and Honda Brawn won the title. Not to forget to mention Mercedes. The team appeared with the 025 on the grid in 1997. Jos Verstappen and Mika Salo were their drivers. While the car was powered by the poor Ford V8 engine.
Jos Verstappen: Tested with the 025.
Mika Salo: Tested with the 025.
Toranosuke Takagi: Tested with the Tyrrell 025 inclusive with the Tyrrell Towers.
Mike Gascoyne: Tested with the Tyrrell 025 at Donington.
Allard Kalff: For an item for a Dutch television program Allard drove with the Tyrell 025 from Jos Verstappen at I believe Silverstone. No images nor videos are out there.
The small Italian team had some disastrous years behind them. In 1997, the team with the beautiful looking M197 on the grid. While the car was decent and reliable, the team lacked the same problem as previous years, no money. Powered by the Hart V8 engine there wasn’t much to fight for on the track. Ukyo Katayama drove all the races for the team. While Jarno Trulli drove the first part of the season with the other car. Eventually Tarso Marques drove the other half of the season.
Ukyo Katayama: Tested with the Minardi 197.
Jarno Trulli: Tested with the Minardi 197.
Tarso Marques: Tested with the Minardi 197.
Esteban Tuero: In late season, Esteban Tuero tested with the Minardi 197 at Fiorano.
Tom Kristensen: Tested with the Minardi M197 at Catalunya.
Luca Badoer: Tested with the Minardi M197 at Fiorano.
Laurent Redon: Tested in late December at Catalunya with the Minardi M197.
Oliver Martini: Tested in late December at Catalunya with the Minardi M197.
HSBC Malaysia Stewart Ford
Stewart Grand Prix was one of the newcomers in 1997. Jackie Stewart was the other former F1 world champion that decided to start his own team in the Formula One. What many don’t know is that Stewart Grand Prix evolved from the Ikuzawa project from a year earlier. Even the designs were used in the Stewart SF01. The Ford Zetec-R V10 engine powered the SF01. Rubens Barrichello and Jan Magnussen were the drivers for the team.
Rubens Barrichello: Tested with the Stewart SF01.
Jan Magnussen: Tested with the Stewart SF01.
Jackie Stewart: Tested on the 31th of October 1997 with his own Stewart SF01 at Silverstone.
Paul Stewart: Tested together with his father the Stewart SF01 at Silverstone.
Mastercard Lola Formula One Racing Team
The sad story of Lola which I covered a while back. Originally the team was to debut in 1998. However, due to the pressure of their new sponsor Mastercard the team had to appear on the grid in 1997. The Lola T95/30 was used as the base for the Lola T97/30. While the team would use the Ford Zetec-R V8 engines until their own Lola V10 engine would be completed. Ricardo Rosset and Vincenzo Sospiri were the drivers. Australia would be a complete disaster. Failing to qualify in Australia the team did some testing with the Lola T97/30. However, in Brazil the garage door would not open. A couple of groups were interested to purchase Lola such as Stefanovic.
Ricardo Rosset: Tested in February and March 1997 with the Lola T97/30 at Silverstone. Tested as well at Santa pod.
Vincenzo Sospiri: Tested in February and March 1997 with the Lola T97/30 at Silverstone. Tested as well at Santa Pod.
Andrea Montermini: Was announced as the teams test driver for that year. He was also told to test with the T97/30. However, he never drove a single meter in the car.