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2000 French GP News
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Last year's race was considered to be one of the most exciting races of the 99' season. Qualifying was wet and Rubens Barrichello and Jean Alesi grabbed the front row while the race itself was full of incidents and Heinz Harald Frentzen managed to win the race thanks to a single stop strategy that worked. We also saw an inspired drive from Mika Hakkinen who started from 14th and moved up to second position before it started to rain.
It will be hard to match the events of last year but if McLaren want to catch up with Ferrari, they have to dig deep and come up with an impressive show. They did very well in testing here last week so they could have the upper hand.
Ferrari: Michael Schumacher ran into problems here last year and finished 5th just ahead of his teammate Eddie Irvine who was ordered not to pass. In the last 2 races, the Ferrari did not appear as reliable as it should. At Monaco Schumacher's car failed while in Canada he certainly had a serious problem. During testing last week at Magny Cours, they had problems on every day so let's hope they fix these problems.
Michael Schumacher has a comfortable lead and winning here will just make the dream of winning the title for Ferrari that much closer.
Rubens Barrichello gave way to team orders in Canada and did not challenge Michael Schumacher towards the end of the race. He did indicate that he is hoping to win one or two races this season so he has given up on any challenge for the championship this season and will be in a supporting role to Michael Schumacher.
McLaren: If testing at Magny Cours is anything to go by, then McLaren will be strong here. Coulthard was fastest on 2 days while Hakkinen was fastest on the 3rd and last day.
David Coulthard wants to wipe the bad memories of Montreal by winning here while Mika Hakkinen needs a good result to gain the upper hand inside the team although that is starting to appear unlikely.
Benetton: They are amazingly running 3rd in the championship even though they are powered by a Supertec engine which does not compare to BMW, Honda or Jaguar. Add to that the fact that it is Giancarlo Fisichella who scored all the points and one must wonder what is Alexander Wurz still doing ?. Fisichella's drive in Montreal was amazing and had it not been for the weather they would have been lucky to score points. They should be stronger here but I still would not expect them to score points unless it rains.
Williams: 0 points from the last 3 races says something. Sure Ralf Schumacher was taken out of the race in Montreal but he was not even close to a point scoring position. It appears that their car is more suited to the high-downforce tracks and with some reliability they should score a point or two here. Ralf Schumacher will do his best while the rumours surrounding Jenson Button will not help.
Jordan: Reliability yet again struck in Montreal with Frentzen retiring with brake problems. Trulli drove a conservative race and finished in the points. They must get the reliability sorted out otherwise they will be regarded as a big failure this season especially after finishing 3rd in the Constructor's championship last year. A top 6 finish is possible if reliability holds.
BAR: Both Villeneuve and Zonta showed some promise in qualifying, Villeneuve was running 2nd during the race at one stage but the rain ruined their chances of a points finish and a even a podium. I don't expect them to be as strong here as BAR appear to struggle badly with downforce and this circuit might not be suited for the BAR chassis. Nevertheless, Villeneuve will again have a good start and make it very hard for those behind him to pass. He could score a point or two.
Sauber: Mika Salo retired while Pedro Diniz was the last driver not to be lapped in Montreal. They could do better here but they will be running alongside Arrows and Jaguar. A top 10 finish for both is possible.
Jaguar: It appears that the team have given up on this season and will be concentrating their effort on next year. Johnny Herbert retired yet again and Eddie Irvine's race didn't start until he was 2 laps down. They will fight with Sauber and Arrows and even then, they need to ensure that their cars can make it to the finish.
Arrows: An impressive drive by Jos Verstappen gave a boost to the team who is trying very hard to score some points. Pedro de la Rosa was impressive as well until he was forced out of the race by Pedro Diniz. The Supertec engine could do better here at Magny Cours so expect them to be ahead of Sauber and Jaguar.
Prost: This is their home grand prix so both Alesi and Heidfeld should at least qualify well. As for the race, reliability has nothing to do with location so I will be surprised to see both finish.
Minardi: Any position higher than the last 2 will be a bonus.
Last year only 12 cars finished the race but that was
mainly due to the accidents and spins in the rain. Expect a few more cars to finish this
year (if it doesn't rain that is!). Practice starts on Friday at 11 AM local time. That is
12 PM GMT