is a McLaren circuit!
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McLaren, if they last, will be very fast on the Monza circuit.
Monza is a very fast circuit (track layout). Cars will exceed 350km/H(217mph) down the main straight before braking to around 120km/H(74mph) for the Retifilo Tribune chicane. Accelerate back up to 340km/H(211mph) through Curva Grande and hard on the brakes again for Variante della Roggia (one hell of a name for just another chicane) which is negotiated at 120km/H(74mph). After that there are no slow bits left. Curva de Lesmos slows the cars to 120km/H(74mph) again and then it is rev limiter stuff virtually all the way to the Parabolica which is a fast (170km/H or 105mph) u-turn that leads onto the straight.
Overtaking is possible on all of the long, fast straights providing that the overtaking car has a power advantage.
To me that sounds like McLaren territory. They are definitely faster than any other car on faster circuits, their only problem is reliability and even that is getting much better.
Raikkonen will probably win the race and even if Montoya makes one of his regular unforced errors he should still finish on the podium.
Alonso may be leading the championship by a big enough margin not to be too worried about it but the Renault is not getting any faster and BAR and Williams are. Alonso may be able to win the championship if he at least finishes on the podium but the looming BAR/Williams threat must be a major concern for him.
It all depends if Renault can get some high-speed performance without sacrificing reliability. If the car can do it we know Alonso can.
Monza is probably not a Fisichella circuit. He seems to have reached that stage that all older drivers get to where the big risk taking has lost its appeal and caution has replaced hot-headedness.
And then of course there is Toyota too. They may not have their chassis sorted and their engine may not be the most manageable but if the rumours are true and they do have the most power in the field this may be where it becomes apparent.
Both Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli are hungry for podium points. Both drivers are quite capable of getting there if the cars will let them.
BAR’s Honda motor is also very powerful and they seem to do a little better in the aerodynamic area, so they could easily have the second fastest car of the day. Button is quite capable of getting third (in fact he is pretty used to it) and Sato can be very fast too.
Williams have been very inconsistent this year. I just start believing that they are getting better and then, just to prove me wrong, their next race is ordinary. They should have the aerodynamics and the chassis for these high-speed circuits and it was not that long ago that their BMW engine was one of the best performers. They just cannot get it together, but if they do, they are also capable of ruining Alonso’s championship chances.
On the other hand Renault could be fast enough for Alonso to win and then he will be virtually guaranteed the championship.
The one team that has no chance of winning is Ferrari. I know that Friday practice is not much to go by but they were not fast.
I can admire Ferrari’s loyalty to Bridgestone but I do not admire Bridgestone’s ability to build competitive tyres. They seem to be able to build a tyre that is fast but does not last or one that lasts but has no grip. So far this season they have not come up with one set of tyres that did the job (of course the was Indianapolis but that only shows that Michelin does not have a perfect record either).
Sauber and Red Bull will probably make up the middle of the pack, possibly with Williams but the rest will be crowding Renault.
Jordan and Minardi will compete for the underdog trophy again but should not be that much of a problem to lap, they will just not have the pace to be a problem.
The season is drawing to a close. Most teams are already planning for next year when some engines will be eight cylinders that will probably produce more power than this year’s engines despite the loss of two pots and 600cc, and some engines will be crippled ten cylinder misfits (sigh, when will the FIA ever get something right?).
Hang in there Alonso, safe it is not!
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