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Canadian Grand Prix
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Will McLaren continue throwing away points ?
Formula 1 teams take a short break from the European tracks and head to North America for the Canadian GP. Over the years this race has produced exciting races and interesting results. Brakes, the weather and the safety car are all factors here. This race is considered to be the first of the season to be run in medium to low downforce configuration however the circuit has very slow corners and chicanes making it very hard on brakes.
In the last race in Monaco, McLaren had their 4th start related problem
with David Coulthard failing to get away at the formation lap and starting
from the back. This is become a regular appearance that it will be
surprising if it doesn't happen yet again here. Last year here, the
mechanics remained on the grid attending to Coulthard's car before the
start of the formation lap longer than permitted and Coulthard was
penalised with a 10 second stop-go penalty effectively forcing him to
start from the back.
Ferrari: A 1-2 finish at Monaco is a perfect result. They also finished 1-2 here last year but it will be hard for them to repeat that here. However, given McLaren's dismal starting record it could again be a no-contest race for Ferrari. They had no reliability issues at Monaco however they could have some here as this circuit is hard on brakes and they've had a few brake related problems recently.
Reliability 8.5/10 - Speed 9.0/10
Drivers: Michael Schumacher can be considered the master of this track having won here more than any other Formula 1 driver. He will be very hard to beat. His toughest opposition will be from Coulthard and his brother Ralf.
Rubens Barrichello complained of foot cramp at Monaco, I wonder what is next. Apart from finishing second here last year he has not had a good record. If the McLaren's and Williams are in trouble he could finish second, otherwise a top 6 finish.
McLaren: Would have scored far more points had they chosen to start their races without launch control. They have one of the biggest budgets in Formula 1 yet they have produced the worst launch control system of all the teams. They don't have a good record here with one car having some sort of a problem at every race in the last 4 years yet if they get it right they can finish 1-2 but it will be very hard.
Reliability 7.5/10 - Speed 9.0/10
Drivers: David Coulthard demonstrated yet again that he had stepped up from his form in the last few years. Having to start from the back at Monaco and being stuck behind Bernoldi for more than half the race yet managing to finish in 5th demonstrates his strength. If he starts well he will be the main threat to Michael Schumacher. A win or a podium is very likely.
Mika Hakkinen retired yet again at Monaco with a car that drifts to one side!. That was his 4th retirement from 7 starts. I wonder when his fortunes will change. He needs to start scoring points to help McLaren in the Constructors' Championship. Whether he'll be able to help Coulthard is another matter. A top 6 finish is possible.
Williams: Reliability is the key. If they have a reliable car they might finish 1-2. Not many would be surprised if that happens. They have the most powerful car yet the most unreliable of the top 3. Also Michelin needs to provide them with a tyre that performs at a similar level to Bridgestone if they are to succeed here.
Reliability 6.0/10 - Speed 9.5/10
Drivers: Ralf Schumacher failed to finish a race since he won at San Marino! but apart from spinning in Spain, the failures were due to car failure. You can almost assume that a Williams will be on Pole here and it will have to be Ralf as Montoya has never raced here before. He could finish on the podium possibly winning the race or retire.
Juan Pablo Montoya crashed 2 laps into the Monaco GP because of a mistake. 6 retirements from 7 races and the 'golden boy' is in trouble and under pressure. He has not shown that he can learn tracks quickly however he seems to adapt quicker to faster tracks so he might be a surprise here. If his car lasts and he doesn't make a mistake then a top 6 finish is likely.
Jordan: After a good start to the season, they have failed to
finish a race in the last 2 events. They seem to be under pressure to
perform especially against BAR who are now just 1 point behind them. If
things continue this way Sauber will also pass them.
Reliability 5.5/10 - Speed 8.0/10
Drivers: Jarno Trulli had 2 retirements in the last 2 races but before them he managed to finish in the points 3 times. If his car lasts he would probably finish in the points ahead of his team-mate.
Heinz Harald Frentzen had 3 retirements in the last 3 races. His car was partly to blame but Frentzen has been out qualified by his team-mate in 6 of the 7 races so far. A points finish is possible but will be very hard to get.
BAR: Have improved significantly in the last few races compared to Jordan. They had only 1 retirement in the last 3 races while Jordan only had 1 finish from the last 3. Their performance at Monaco was strong despite the fact that the circuit doesn't suit their package. They should be able to beat Jordan here again.
Reliability 8.0/10 - Speed 8.5/10
Drivers: Jacques Villeneuve performed very well in Monaco despite not having a good record there. Villeneuve doesn't have a good record at his home track either but this year with Panis pushing him he will probably do well. A top 6 finish is possible.
Olivier Panis will need to keep the pressure on Jacques. It was expected that he would beat Villeneuve at Monaco but he didn't. Panis had a terrible accident at Canada in '97 breaking both his legs. This could impact his form here. He could do well though and a top 6 finish is possible.
Sauber: They did not shape at Monaco indicating that they don't have a good high downforce package. This should not effect them here in Canada but given that they are using an engine that is a year old, their direct competitors (Jordan and BAR) will gradually become harder and harder to catch.
Reliability 7.5/10 - Speed 7.5/10
Drivers: Nick Heidfeld is under pressure from his less experienced team-mate Kimi. They have been very close all season but the more race Kimi participates in, the more he will push Heidfeld. A top 10 finish is likely.
Kimi Raikkonen could be considered the best rookie of the year ahead of Juan Pablo Montoya given his finishing record the qualifying position relative to his team-mate. He enjoys high speed tracks so this should suite him. A top 10 finish is likely.
Jaguar: Have done very well at Monaco with Eddie Irvine finishing on the podium. Their new aerodynamic package will get its first real test here. If the package is as good as Irvine makes of, they could be up there with the Honda runners.
Reliability 6.5/10 - Speed 7.0/10
Drivers: Eddie Irvine finished on the podium in Monaco surprising a lot of people. If the car is good he could also finish in the points here.
Pedro de la Rosa had 3 retirements in the last 3 races. 2 of them are car related and one was as a result of an accident with Frentzen yet the pressure on him to perform is growing. He has performed well here in the past running very well last year until Pedro Diniz forced him out of the race. He will be close to Irvine here.
Arrows: This is a track that will suite them so they should be the best of the last 4 and possibly close to Jaguar and Sauber. Their reliability is getting better with both cars finishing at Monaco.
Reliability 7.0/10 - Speed 6.0/10
Drivers: Jos Verstappen finished in the points here last year and drove a good race at Monaco. The competition though will be tough and a top 10 finish is possible but will be hard to achieve.
Enrique Bernoldi demonstrated that he is hard to crack after he managed to keep Coulthard at bay at Monaco. He has also out-qualified his more experienced team-mate 4 - 3 so far. But as with Verstappen a top 10 finish is possible but will be hard to achieve.
Prost: The point they scored at Monaco was more to do with the skill of Alesi than the improvement on the car. As with Jaguar, it is here were their new aerodynamic package will be tested. I don't expect them to improve dramatically.
Reliability 8.0/10 - Speed 6.0/10
Drivers: Jean Alesi scored a point for the struggling team at Monaco which is a track that he always does well on. He has done well in Canada in the past but the Prost won't be even close to the Saubers. He could finish outside the top 10.
Luciano Burti struggled at Monaco showing that the car hasn't really improved. This will be another new track for him. A finish outside the top 10 is likely.
Benetton: They failed to score a point at Monaco even though it is not a power track. How will they do here ? Miserably.
Reliability 6.0/10 - Speed 4/10
Drivers: Giancarlo Fisichella has an impressive record here finishing on the podium in the last 4 years but this year his car won't help him. He won't let a Minardi beat him here but it will be very hard to finish inside the top 10.
Jenson Button seems to be getting affected by the bad form of the car. He didn't do well at Monaco and is unlikely to do well here either. He will be fighting with Alonso.
Minardi: They are now the only team not to score points this season and will probably remain that way unless a lot of cars ahead of them retire. They have failed to finish either of their cars in the last 2 races and that won't help them!
Reliability 4.0/10 - Speed 5.0/10
Drivers: Fernando Alonso continues to impress and has now qualified ahead of 4 cars in the last 4 races in a row even though he drives what is considered to be the slowest of them all. He'll be fighting with Button and Burti if his car holds.
Tarso Marques qualified last in all of the 7 events so far except one. If his car doesn't fail and he doesn't make a mistake, he'll finish a few laps down.