1 Chinese Grand Prix
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A close fight in China!
Positions 6 to 10 can also change with Trulli on 43 points 4 points ahead of his
team-mate Ralf Schumacher who is just a single point ahead of Rubens Barrichello
with Button and Webber not too far behind.
track in Shanghai is considered to be a medium to high downforce track. There
are two very long straights including the start-finish straight that is over 1
kilometre long. The track also has a few slow corners which will force the teams
into a compromise between low downforce for top speed and high downforce for
As this is the last race of the season, those drivers with a new engine will
have the advantage of using an engine that only needs to last for a single race.
The 2 Renault drivers and Juan Pablo Montoya will have new engines while Kimi
Raikkonen will have to race with the engine he used in Japan. Most other drivers
will also have new engines except for Jenson Button, Jacques Villeneuve, Ralf
Schumacher, Narain Karthikeyan and the 2 Minardi drives.
Here is a team by team preview:
They are back leading the Constructors' Championship but only by 2 points. It
would have been 6 had it not been for Raikkonen's brilliant drive but they were
also fortunate that Montoya retired from the race. Both their cars will have
fresh engines and that will give them a small boost. Still they are likely to be
slightly behind McLaren here.
Drivers: Fernando Alonso drove one of his best races to date at Suzuka and showed what he can do starting from the back. We will no doubt see another duel between him and the 2 McLaren drivers here. A win will be difficult but a podium is likely.
Giancarlo Fisichella lost the lead in Japan on the last lap. He would want to prove that he is worth driving the Renault. He should do well otherwise he may have a fate similar to that of Trulli. Podium possible if one of the McLaren cars run into problems.
Once again they suffer problems. First it was Kimi's engine change but due to
the weather the penalty didn't affect them. Then there was Montoya's crash due
to a move by Villeneuve. Now they have to push extra hard to try and take the
Championship from Renault. They need a 1-2 finish to ensure they win it.
Drivers: Kimi Raikkonen pushed hard all race and impressive everyone winning from the back of the grid. He joins only a handful of drivers who won a race from 17th or lower. The big question mark will be his engine. He pushed hard in Japan and he and the team can't afford an engine failure. It will be close but a win is possible.
Juan Pablo Montoya had a good start in Japan only to go off on the first lap thanks to Jacques Villeneuve. He will have a fresh engine but will qualify early which will affect his starting position. A podium is possible but difficult.
They have now secured third place thanks to a poor performance from Toyota. They
didn't have the car to fight the top two teams in Japan and they won't be able
to do much in Shanghai either.
Drivers: Michael Schumacher finished 7th in Japan and that was a good result given that he started from 14th. Compared to the McLaren and Renault, it was disappointing though. He struggled here last year and he would want to improve his record. A points finish likely.
Rubens Barrichello won here last year but don't expect a repeat. This will be his last race for the team and going by his results since it was announced he was leaving, it will be a surprise if he finishes in the points.
Toyota: After the euphoria
of grabbing Pole in Japan, it all turned to almost nothing!. Trulli didn't have
much of a chance after spinning in qualifying and Ralf only managed 8th. Their
position in the Championship won't change.
Drivers: Jarno Trulli spun out in qualifying and then Sato took him out of the race. He will have a better race here but the new chassis didn't seem to be that much of an improvement. Points possible.
Ralf Schumacher took pole in Japan under wet conditions but was low on fuel. Once again Toyota give marketing preference in deciding race strategy!. Finishing 8th place was disappointing. Expect a similar result.
Williams: It is hard to understand the
performance of the Williams team. One race they are hopelessly slow and the next
they are the best of the rest!. How they do in China is anyone's guess!
Drivers: Mark Webber had a good race for a change. He needs a few more of those to give his confidence a boost. Points possible.
Antonio Pizzonia spun out of the race in Japan. Even if it is a new track, you don't make such mistakes when you are hoping for a drive next year. He may have his last race in China which will be another new track from him.
The story for BAR this season has been the contrast between their two drivers.
If Sato scored even half of Button's points the team would be close to Williams
in the Championship. One wonders if having a Japanese driver is worth it for
Honda. I guess the answer is yes given the rumours that Honda could be powering
a new Formula 1 team next year with Sato as one of the drivers!
Drivers: Jenson Button finished 5th in Japan after starting from 2nd!. One has to wonder why he performs better when he is under contractual pressures!. Points possible but he will running the same engine used in Japan.
Takuma Sato was disqualified from the race in Japan as a result of his move on Trulli. He will be the first to qualify. Expect a poor race with a finish unlikely.
Red Bull: They keep fighting.
They scored a 6th place finish this late in the season thanks to Coulthard who
actually led the race for a lap! It will be another tough race for the team.
Drivers: David Coulthard drove a good race in Japan and finished 6th. He'll have a tough race in China and points will be hard to get but one can never discount him!.
Christian Klien didn't impress in Japan and only managed 9th despite starting from 4th on the grid. He needs a good result in China as he isn't yet confirmed as the second Red Bull driver next year. Points difficult.
They will race with Ferrari engines for the last time. With the BMW takeover
they are going through a lot of change and will be concentrating on next year's
car. Unless many cars in front run into trouble don't expect a good result.
Drivers: Jacques Villeneuve was penalised by the stewards in Japan after he was found to have caused Montoya's retirement. This isn't helping his chances of BMW keeping him next season. He raced here last year in the Renault and didn't impress. It is hard to expect a good result from him.
Felipe Massa will be racing for Sauber for the last time before moving to Ferrari next season. Finished 10th in Japan, expect a similar result here.
They are now fighting with Minardi. This year has been a disaster for the team
and it doesn't look as if they are doing much to improve next year.
Drivers: Tiago Monteiro finished 14th in Japan and a lap ahead of his team-mate. We could see him next year in Formula 1. He'll have a tough race but expect him to better his team-mate and the Minardis.
Narain Karthikeyan will most likely drive in his last race in Formula 1. He started the season strong but then faded away. It is unfortunate as he seems to be a very good wet weather driver but seems to overdrive his car.
Minardi: This will be the last race for
the team under Paul Stoddart's ownership. Despite all the work Stoddart has
done, the team remained at the back of the grid. Perhaps this year they finally
had another team to compete with.
Drivers: Christijan Albers showed a few signs in practice in Japan that he is good in the wet. This may give him a lifeline in Formula 1 next year. Unlikely though. Expect a tough race in China.
Robert Doornbos seemed to be competitive with his team-mate when he first raced for the team a few races ago but now his is consistently behind. Hard to imagine him driving next year. China will be tough.
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