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Ralf's last chance  
26 July 2001 Volume 3 - Issue 24  

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If Ralf does not take advantage of the superior speed of the Williams to win at Hockenheim he has no chance (not even mathematically) of overtaking his brother. He is currently 53 points behind, which means that he has to win every race while Michael has to earn less than 6 points over the rest of the season. Slim, I agree, but unless he wins in Hockenheim his chances are zero.

Coulthard is in a better position being only (if only is the right word) 37 points behind. He also needs to win every race while Michael has to earn less than 23 points. He, at least is not totally out of the running if he does not win at Hockenheim. Maybe not as slim but still very close to zero.

Both of them have a much better chance than H. H. Frentzen, seeing that he has just been sacked. I am amazed at the timing. Why this late in the season? What effect will it have? It is not as if Jordan had a chance of doing better with another driver. It is not because they have decided on another driver and wanted this new driver to get as much race experience as possible.

Blowing him away before his home race can only assure them of a very hostile crowd over the weekend.

Hockenheim is very fast, second only to Monza in Europe. But then all the tracks from now on with the exception of the Hungarian race are fast. With engines at full throttle for almost 70% of the lap and long straights with tight, slow corners it is hard on engines and brakes.

Speeds are also getting towards the higher end of the season. The approach to Jim Clarke Kurve and Ayrton Senna Kurve will both happen at over 350km/H(220mph) Ostkurve and the big S at Sachs will be approached just a little slower but still very fast.

Because of the longer straights overtaking should not be a problem on all four fast sections providing that the overtaking car has a speed advantage. This is not a circuit where grip advantage that is not supported by a high speed ability will win.

From past performance Williams should do well. They have the power and straight line speed advantage.

Lately, however, Williams, like all of the Michelin clad teams, have been struggling with their tyres. Hockenheim will require medium to hard tyres. The Michelin problem experienced by Ralf was on soft compound tyres and the time that Montoya raced on harder tyres he did not fare too poorly - in fact if he did not blow a motor he was likely to finish on the podium in front of Ralf. So, they could be OK in the tyre department, especially if Michelin have been working on improving their performance on fast circuits.

But, Hockenheim is hard on engines too and although Williams have improved dramatically over the season I do not regard the BMW motor reliable enough to win consistently on these, tougher tracks.

They could start fast and end soon.

Ferrari may not have the top speed that Williams can produce but as a package they are probably better placed to win the race and have the reliability to finish both cars.

Hockenheim is Michael Schumacher's home race and he may be motivated to win, rather than play it safe like he did in Britain. If Coulthard stays in the race, Michael will definitely work on staying in front of him, but if Coulthard retires again (or even if he is off the pace) Michael may again only do what it takes to improve his world championship chances.

I hope he does not. It would be good to see him race and if Michael Schumacher is trying he will be hard to beat.

David Coulthard, as I said before, will be desperate to win. Finishing in front of Schumacher may improve his chances but winning as many races as possible has to be the only strategy that has any chance of making it to that very illusive drivers championship.

I am not convinced, even after Hakkinen's performance at Silverstone, that McLaren are up to Ferrari's speed. Silverstone is the track on which they do most of their testing and the whole team would know what to do to be fast. They could easily be slower than Ferrari and Williams.

They also seem to still have some residual reliability problems - they could even retire.

Jordan and Sauber will probably be the best of the rest. Frentzen could have done well here but he does not drive for Jordan any more. You could have timed it better Eddie.

BAR will fall into the clutches of Prost again, who seem to be going a lot better.

Arrows may do well as they always seem to get a lot more out of their cars on high-speed tracks.

Jaguar have been very fast during the recent testing runs. They have also been doing better in recent races. They are probably not fast enough to finish in the points unless there are several retirements in the leading teams but they could be up there with Sauber and Jordan.

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