1 San Marino Grand Prix
Download the NewsOnF1.com
Don't discount Ferrari or BAR
In Bahrain Alonso had an easy race as soon as Michael retired early in the race. Several others were quick including Raikkonen so expect the fight for the lead to be between Alonso, Michael, Raikkonen and possibly Button.
The Imola track has medium to high speed corners, a couple of chicanes and is heavy on the brakes. Cars need good balance to ride the curbs without compromising stability.
The weather will be another factor at this track. Temperatures are expected to be in the teens all weekend. That is more than 20 degrees lower than what they were at the last 2 races. How the tyres will be affected remains to be seen however expect a smaller gap between Michelin and Bridgestone however it is likely that Michelin will still have the edge having done far more testing than their rivals.
Most teams conducted extensive testing over the last 2 weeks. BAR broke lap records at Barcelona and Paul Ricard while Ferrari were busy testing at Mugello and Fiorano with Michael setting the fastest time in a 2005 spec car at Fiorano.
Here is a team by team review:
So far they have a perfect winning record this season. While that may have been the aim, I doubt they expected this. Things will
get tougher for them and Fisichella's engine failure in Bahrain must be worrying them.
Drivers: Fernando Alonso drove another faultless race in Bahrain. He is the man to beat here at Imola however unlike a few of his competitors, he'll be running the engine from Bahrain and that may restrict his running time and prevent him from pushing during the race. He did take it easy for most of the race in Bahrain though.
Giancarlo Fisichella had an engine failure in Bahrain and goes to Imola with a new engine. This may help him however it appears that he is no match for Alonso. A win is possible if Alonso has problems with his car.
Proved that they are a serious competitor at the front. However they haven't done well here in the past so they may be a bit
behind. Both Trulli and Schumacher will be using the same engine from Bahrain so that could be an issue as well.
Drivers: Jarno Trulli drove a solid race to second in Bahrain. He seems happy at Toyota and is delivering results. The competition will be tougher at Imola and a third podium in a row will be difficult.
Ralf Schumacher isn't doing as well as his team-mate and he'll need to turn that around. Finishing 4th in Bahrain was a good result but he needs to get closer to Trulli in qualifying. Expect a top 8 finish.
McLaren: They are fast in race trim but need
to improve their performance in qualifying. If they do, they will be fighting for the win. Both drivers will be using their engines
from Bahrain and de la Rosa in particular pushed hard all race.
Drivers: Kimi Raikkonen finished on the podium in Bahrain. He could have done better had he started higher up the grid. If he manages to qualify near the front, he'll be a contender this weekend. The engine could be an issue though.
Second driver (Juan Pablo Montoya/Pedro de la Rosa/Alex Wurz) - McLaren have yet to announce who will be driving the second car. Montoya is expected to be fully recovered and if he does take part in the race he may struggle slightly given he's been out of action for over a month. If he isn't able to race, I expect de la Rosa to take his place based on his performance in the Bahrain as well as the Formula 1 tests since then. It may be unfair to Alex Wurz though. This car may be more vulnerable to engine trouble.
They continue to improve however they suffered an engine failure in Bahrain and like Renault would be worried about the other engine
lasting another race weekend.
Drivers: Mark Webber leads his team-mate in the championship but he can't be happy with his 6th place finish in Bahrain as he could have finished in 4th place. He'll also need to be careful with his engine here as it has done a race distance already. Points likely if the engine lasts.
Nick Heidfeld suffered an engine failure in Bahrain and will be using a fresh engine here in Imola. That could give him an advantage over Webber. Williams are usually strong here so Heidfeld could finish on the podium. Difficult but possible.
They are now back in 5th place with 12 points in the championship. Still more points from 3 races than the entire 04 season (as
Jaguar). They could have scored more points had Klien managed to start the race. As Ferrari and BAR are expected to bounce back,
scoring points will be get much harder.
Drivers: David Coulthard managed to score a point after passing the struggling Barrichello on the final lap. Don't expect the same to happen again. Points only possible if many in front retire.
Vitantonio Liuzzi takes the second Red Bull seat for the next 3 races in place of Christian Klien. Klien did a very good job in the first 3 races but the team made it clear from the start they wanted to give Liuzzi a shot. Liuzzi impressed in testing and on Friday practice sessions. The expectation is that he'll do as well or even better than Klien and I tend to agree with that. Points will be very difficult though.
in 6th place in the championship but expect that to change after Imola. The new car should be reliable and they should have spare
parts!. Bridgestone will also be much more competitive as track temperatures are expected to remain much lower than those
experienced in Bahrain and Malaysia. Ferrari didn't dominate here last year and so even if their Bridgestone tyres are comparable to
Michelin they will have very stiff competition from Renault, McLaren and BAR here.
Drivers: Rubens Barrichello once again failed to score points due to worn tyres. He did finish the race which means that he'll start with the same engine from Bahrain. Points likely, podium hard.
Michael Schumacher retired early in Bahrain. His early pace looked stronger than Alonso but we don't know how much fuel he had or how his tyres may have affected his pace later in the race. With cooler temperatures at Imola, the gap between Michelin and Bridgestone will be narrower. If the new Ferrari proves to be reliable in the race then expect a fight between Michael and Alonso with Raikkonen and Button possibilities too!
Sauber: They must have been pleased with Massa scoring 2 points in Bahrain and getting
ahead of a Ferrari (their engine suppliers) on track. But they would have been disappointed with Villeneuve being punted off and
ending the race early. It will be much hard for them to score points at Imola.
Drivers: Felipe Massa scored 2 points in Bahrain and continues to completely dominate his team-mate. He also performed much better in testing at Barcelona last week. Points will be almost impossible though.
Jacques Villeneuve had a poor race in Bahrain despite the fact that he nearly scored a point. He was again slower than his
team-mate. His testing was cut short in Barcelona and it remains to be seen if that was a sign of a strained relationship between
Villeneuve and Sauber. If he continues his poor form at Imola he could be out of a race seat soon after.
Jordan: Suffered their first
failure in Bahrain. Not a bad result considering their budget and resources. They tested at Paul Ricard and continue to be off the
pace so don't expect much improvement at Imola.
Drivers: Narain Karthikeyan retired in Bahrain and so will have a fresh Toyota engine here. That should help him but don't expect him to be close to Red Bull and Sauber.
Tiago Monteiro will be using the same engine from Bahrain and that could affect his running time and performance. So far he hasn't matched his team-mate and needs to do better.
BAR: Currently in 9th place and clearly
not where they expect to be. This has obviously been a shock to them and they appear to be responding well in testing at least.
During the last 2 test sessions at Barcelona and Paul Ricard they not only set the fastest times but also covered a massive amount
of laps without major problems. They did well here last year and if they are able to maintain the strong reliability from testing,
they will be strong here.
Drivers: Jenson Button struggled in Bahrain with clutch and brake problems but he was in the points prior to that. He finished second here last year and if the car is reliable expect a strong performance from him, possibly fighting Alonso, Michael and Raikkonen for the win.
Takuma Sato had major brake problems in Bahrain and had to retire. He wasn't on the pace but should be stronger here. Points likely if the car is reliable and he doesn't go off!.
Minardi: They gave their new car a shakedown last week and are getting the second
car ready. It will be interesting to see how the new car will compare to Jordan and to Red Bull (they also use Cosworth power). Expect
teething problems in the first race or two though.
Drivers: Christijan Albers finished the race in Bahrain 4 laps down. With the new car he should be closer but reliability could be an issue.
Patrick Freisacher will be in a similar situation to his team-mate.
Discuss this preview on the San Marino Grand Prix Thread on the Forums
Join 8 'n' Pole and see how your predictions stack up against the others. Register now!