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2000 United States GP News
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Formula 1 returns to the USA for the first time since 1991 when it was held in Phoenix and Ayrton Senna won the last 2 races there. This year, the US Grand Prix will be held at a brand new track which incorporates part of the oval track at the Indianapolis speedway.
With a combination of the high speed (low downforce) oval section and the low speed (high down force) road section, this circuit is going to be a challenge for the teams to setup. No team has ever practiced or raced on this track and the teams are relying on computer simulations to learn this track.
Last year the Formula 1 teams had to learn the Sepang circuit in Malaysia and Michael Schumacher and Ferrari dominated when Schumacher handed the win to Eddie Irvine on his return to Formula 1 after breaking his leg. In addition, Ferrari's pace at the Italian Grand Prix indicates that they have managed to close the gap on McLaren. McLaren will still be strong and it is expected that one of those two teams will win the race.
Expect team orders to come into play at this race with David Coulthard and Rubens Barrichello out to help their team-mates if they can.
McLaren: Still leading both championships but by a very small margin. They have not been as good as Ferrari in adapting quickly to a new track but this circuit might just suit them and they could still dominate. Mika Hakkinen will get all the attention now that Coulthard is 19 points behind and Coulthard will be asked to help if possible. Both will probably finish in the top 4 with a possible 1-2.
Ferrari: They have managed to make an amazing comeback at Monza and they should have the momentum. The Ferrari is difficult to setup on this kind of track but Michael Schumacher should be able to work around that. He could be on pole and has a good chance of winning this race. Rubens Barrichello will struggle with setup and will qualify 4th or even further back. A top 4 finish for both is expected although a 1-2 finish is unlikely unless McLaren are off the pace.
Williams: 2 podiums in a row for Ralf Schumacher and a third one here is not impossible if any of the McLaren's or Ferrari's get into trouble. It is very hard to pick who will be behind the top 2 teams but Williams is a certain contender. Ralf Schumacher could get a strong result here and Jenson Button has the potential especially that he is on par with all the other drivers here having to learn the circuit but in the last 2 races he showed some inexperience during the race that he must learn from and use to his advantage. A top 6 finish is possible.
Benetton: Wurz scored his first championship points at Monza and that was due to the many retirements ahead of him. The Benetton is struggling and surely they are concentrating on next year. I expect them to be behind Williams, Jordan and BAR. A top 10 finish is possible.
Jordan: 2 cars out on the first lap in Italy made a disastrous weekend for Jordan. They will be strong here and compete with Williams and BAR. If reliability holds and with a bit of luck they could finish in the top 6. Jarno Trulli appears to have gained on Heinz Harald Frentzen and expect Trulli to put on a stronger performance here.
BAR: Jacques Villeneuve will be the only driver who raced here on the oval track. This could give him a slight advantage as the BAR is also suited to the oval part of the track but they will struggle in the road section of the track and that will affect their qualifying. They will compete with Jordan and Williams and a top 6 finish is also a possibility.
Sauber: They finished 7th and 8th at Monza. I expect them to compete with Benetton, Jaguar and Arrows here. A top 10 finish is a possibility but it will be hard to pick which driver will do better here.
Arrows: Jos Verstappen finished 4th for Arrows at Monza and that will give him and the team the boost they need for this race. They will be fighting with Sauber and Jaguar and they will probably beat both here. Pedro de la Rosa crashed out on the first lap at Monza but expect him to bounce back on this track and finish ahead of Verstappen. A top 10 finish is a strong possibility.
Jaguar: This is an important race for Jaguar from a marketing point of view and they have to be strong. In reality though, they will be glad to finish in the top 10 if they do!. They didn't finish in Monza as both their cars were involved in accidents but they qualified 14th and 18th! indicating their lack of pace.
Prost: We are starting to see the Prost more regularly at the back of the grid just ahead of the Minardi's. The same is expected here and if they don't retire they might just finish ahead of the Minardi's.
Minardi: Both finished in the top 10 at Monza which must have been a boost for the team but unless the cars ahead have problems, they will qualify and finish the race at the back.
Practice starts on Friday at 11 AM local time. That is 4 PM GMT.