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2000 Japanese GP News
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Michael Schumacher can win his third Drivers' Title in
Japan if he wins regardless of where Mika Hakkinen finishes. (Click here for a number of other scenario's)
Mika Hakkinen appeared strong at the US GP and had it not
been for an engine failure, we would have witnessed an interesting duel between the two.
Hakkinen has managed to win in Japan under pressure in the last two years and both were
title deciders. In 98 he was 4 points ahead of Schumacher in the Championship while in 99
he was 4 points behind Irvine.
As we saw at the US GP, team orders will come into play at this race with David Coulthard and Rubens Barrichello out to help their team-mates if they can.
Ferrari: They have moved ahead of McLaren in both championships. A win at Suzuka will secure the drivers' title and could also secure the constructor's title. They have won the last 2 races and are looking good for their third. A 1 - 2 finish is a strong possibility. Rubens Barrichello will play a support role to Michael.
McLaren: Had their first car failure in 13
races which is a very good record. They are under a lot of pressure here but Hakkinen has
proved in the past that he can win under these circumstances but will he make it 3 in row
? Possible but difficult.
Williams: Despite not scoring any points at the US GP, Williams are running 3rd in the championship and don't appear to be threatened by Benetton, BAR or Jordan. Leading by 14 points from Benetton, they are in a strong position to finish in 3rd position. Ralf Schumacher has been struggling in qualifying but in the race he has been very good while Jenson Button has been very good in qualifying but still needs more experience and maturity during the race. A top 6 finish is possible but both Jordan and BAR will be strong competitors.
Benetton: They had a bad weekend in the US as they struggled to come to grip with the new circuit. They should do better here but will not finish in the points. Both Jordan and BAR are about to get ahead of them and they probably will by the end of the season. A top 10 finish is possible.
Jordan: We saw a good duel between Frentzen and Villeneuve in the US for 3rd position. Expect more of the same here as Honda will provide both teams with whatever it can to ensure that they get a good result at their home GP. Trulli had 3 retirements in row, twice clashing with Button. If he manages to survive the first few laps here then a top 6 is a strong possibility.
BAR: They are getting stronger by the race and at Japan expect them to be slightly ahead of Williams and Jordan. If any of the top 2 teams hit problems then you could see a BAR on the podium. A top 6 finish for Villeneuve is more likely though. Zonta has been looking good and trying to impress any prospective employer to secure a drive next year. He could also do well.
Arrows: They didn't finish in the US but they didn't look good either. They qualified in 13th and 18th as they struggled with the balance of the car in the infield section. They should do better in Japan but there are also the reliability problems. They will be fighting with Sauber and Jaguar and they need to score a point or two to maintain 7th position in the constructor's championship. A top 10 finish is a strong possibility.
Sauber: Pedro Diniz managed to finish in the top 10 in the US. Expect more of the same here. There are just a point behind Arrows in the championship and they would want to ensure that they finish ahead of them by the end of the season. Scoring 1 point this season is very hard though.
Jaguar: Both cars finished in the US and Herbert's gamble by staying on dry tyres at the start almost paid off. They appear to have the reliability under control but they need to get the performance. I am sure that they are concentrating on next year's car as they know that it will be very very hard to move from their 9th position in the championship as they are 3 points behind Sauber. A top 10 finish is possible but a top 6 will be very very hard.
Prost: They are desperate to get a single point in the championship but that is looking almost impossible. They could finish the race possibly in front of Minardi.
Minardi: Unless the cars ahead have problems, they will qualify and finish the race at the back.