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2000 Austrian GP News
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The Austrian Grand Prix of 1999 was another exciting race but it was also the race where David Coulthard managed to force Mika Hakkinen into a spin and let Eddie Irvine pass him through the pits giving away 10 points to Ferrari. Today Coulthard is second in the championship and coming out of a win from France. It appears that Coulthard has indeed changed ?
The 10th race of the 2000 season will be one of the crucial races for both championships but more importantly the Driver's championship where Michael Schumacher cannot afford to lose any more points to the McLaren duo as that will give McLaren a big psychological advantage, something Ferrari certainly wans to avoid.
Ferrari: This was the first race Michael Schumacher missed after breaking his leg at Silverstone last year. This year he is 12 points ahead and if reliability holds, he should be able to finish in the top 3 keeping a good points advantage over McLaren. Last year Hakkinen qualified almost a second faster than Eddie Irvine and sure Schumacher is faster than Irvine but 1 second is a big gap. This is one of the few tracks where Michael Schumacher has yet to win.
At the French GP, not only did Ferrari struggle with reliability but they struggled with grip as well and Ferrari must have been working hard on that.
Rubens Barrichello will be helping Michael Schumacher and unless Schumacher runs into problems, don't expect Barrichello to be ahead of him.
McLaren: By looking at the statistics of the last few races, it appears that McLaren are starting to gain on Ferrari. The latest evidence of that is during testing at Mugello last week where Panis set the fastest time 4 days in a row at the Ferrari track.
David Coulthard appears to have the momentum and will certainly want to maximise his points to catch Michael Schumacher. Coulthard has yet to win back to back races. Mika Hakkinen in the meantime appears to have given up on the championship this year. If he hasn't, time is running out for him to make a recovery. It is now or never. Perhaps the amazing drive from last to third here last year after Coulthard forced him into a spin will remind him of how good he is.
Benetton: As expected, they didn't do well
in France and they will probably struggle here but Alexander Wurz is driving on his home
track which could give him the boost he needs, otherwise he will probably be replaced
after this race!
Williams: Ralf Schumacher finally managed to stop the Williams drought as he managed to finish 5th in France. He will be strong here as well. Jenson Button will struggle given that he is new to the track and all the distractions regarding his future. Williams is competing mainly with Jordan and BAR and it is hard to predict which team will have the upper hand here in Austria. It will be very close.
Jordan: Like Ferrari they struggled with grip and lost places to Williams because of that. They did get a boost when Honda announced they will supply them with works engines from next year. They were still beaten by Villeneuve's BAR. Frentzen and Trulli are very close and they have clashed several times this season and that is not very healthy. Eddie Jordan needs to find a solution to this. Jordan will be fighting with Williams and BAR for the remaining points behind Ferrari and McLaren.
BAR: With Villeneuve's starts and the significant engine and chassis enhancements that BAR and Honda are providing, anything is possible however 5th place behind Ferrari and McLaren is more realistic. He will still have to fight Ralf Schumacher, Heinz Harald Frentzen and Jarno Trulli for that!. Zonta has been making too many mistakes and he is certainly on his way out of BAR and perhaps even out of F1.
Sauber: Both drivers finished a lap down in France so they are reliable but not fast enough. Once again they will be running alongside Arrows and Jaguar. A top 10 finish for both is possible.
Jaguar: After claiming that they have fixed the clutch problems, Eddie Irvine failed to start in Canada and lost several places at the start in France. The team is struggling with reliability and speed. Eddie Irvine appears to give it his best but he doesn't appear to have the car. Johnny Herbert is lucky to finish a race!
Arrows: Two transmission failures at France is a worry and if they want to finish they have to fix these problems first. They covered a lot of laps in testing last week at Silverstone so they could have those problems sorted out. They will be competing with Sauber and Jaguar for a top 10 finish.
Prost: I was surprised to see both Prost's finish in France even though Heidfeld was a lap down and Alesi was 2 laps down. The situation at Prost is not very good with sponsors unhappy with the performance so far and Peugeot about to pull the plug on supplying engines. This is not a good season for Prost.
Minardi: Any position higher than the last 2 will be a bonus.
Last year 14 cars finished the race. Practice starts on
Friday at 11 AM local time. That is 9 AM GMT