Diana's car and Uno did collide

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LONG-AWAITED results of tests on the Mercedes in whichDiana, Princes of Wales met her death show that the car had no technical problems, was going slower than originally believed, and definitely brushed against a Fiat Uno, sources close to the investigation said yesterday.

The tests on the Mercedes, which have been conducted for the past 13 months at a police laboratory near Paris, have been seen as the biggest missing piece of the puzzle in the investigation into Diana's death in a Paris traffic tunnel last year.

Two sources, both of whom spoke on condition of anonymity, said the tests had been completed and will be transmitted to Judge Herve Stephan early next month.

They included both crash tests and tests using a computer. According to the sources, the tests showed that:

nThe Mercedes had no problems with its brakes, contrary to reported testimony in the police record that the car was precarious when braking suddenly.

It also had no problems with its airbags, the sources said.

Investigators were believed to have been looking at whether the Mercedes' front airbags may have inflated before the car struck the tunnel's pillar - perhaps as a result of the brush with the Uno.

nThat driver Henri Paul was only going at 100kmh, much slower than initial reports speculated, but still twice the speed limit. Paul, who was drunk at the time, was killed, as was Diana's boyfriend, Dodi Fayed.

The only survivor was bodyguard Trevor Rees-Jones.

nThat the Mercedes, as has long been believed, did indeed have a brush with a Fiat Uno before crashing. However, it is not known to what extent the incident caused the crash.

Police have questioned almost 3,000 owners of Fiat Unos, but are thought to have long ago given up hope of finding either the car or the owner.

Judge Stephan will have to decide whether he now has enough information to complete his investigation.