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Austrian Grand Prix
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Another Ferrari domination ?
Following Ferrari's domination at both the San Marino and
Spanish events, it looks like we'll have another Ferrari domination at the
A1-Ring in Austria. The A1 ring is a stop and go circuit which may suit the
Williams with their power advantage so they may have a chance provided that
Michelin would supply them with consistent tyres.
Last week, all the Formula 1 teams with the exception of Minardi were testing. The teams were testing at 6 different venues with Williams, McLaren, Renault, Sauber and Jaguar testing at Valencia. BAR and Toyota at Estoril, Arrow and Jordan at Silverstone while Ferrari tested at Monza, Mugello and Fiorano (yes three different tracks!). Several teams also conducted straight line testing at various venues.
Last year at the A1, David Coulthard won the race after starting from 7th ahead of Michael Schumacher who was handed 2nd place when the Ferrari team ordered Barrichello to let him though. Coulthard won the race after Montoya and Michael clashed and lost a number of positions while Barrichello lost the lead to David through the pits.
Ferrari: They lead both Championships and look set
to continue their domination at least in the short term. The only worry they
have is reliability. Luckily for them it has so far only affected their second
driver Rubens Barrichello but if they don't sort their problems out, Michael
will soon suffer as a result.
Drivers: Michael Schumacher looks set to win his 4th race in a row this season and only reliability problems will prevent that. The Bridgestone tyre is so close to the Michelin that it is unlikely to give Ferrari a big disadvantage. A win will be expected.
Rubens Barrichello needs luck to be on his side. 4 retirements from 5 starts is not a record to be proud of but when 3 of those retirements are due to car failures then you can't blame the guy. Since he drove the F2002 car, he has almost matched Michael in qualifying and sooner or later he will grab Pole. In the race though, we have yet to see him race Michael. A podium finish is likely although with his luck, that isn't guaranteed!.
Williams: They admitted that
they'll struggle in Spain, still they lined up on the second row of the grid.
They say Austria should suit their car so are we likely to see a fight with
Ferrari ?. It is possible provided that the Michelin tyres are consistent.
Drivers: Juan Pablo Montoya is now second in the Drivers' Championship (21 points behind Michael) but that gives him a psychological advantage over his team-mate. Last year he clashed with Michael on this track and if the opportunity arises he will clash again. He outqualified Ralf last year in his first attempt so expect him to do the same again and possibly threaten the Ferraris. A podium finish is likely.
Ralf Schumacher was very disappointed from himself after making a mistake and losing second place to his team-mate. Mistakes like these have a major impact especially when fighting with your team-mate. Last year he couldn't match his team-mate in Austria in Qualifying nor during the race before he retired. Don't expect that to change. He could finish on the podium though if Michael and Juan clash.
McLaren: Now lying a distant 3rd in the championship only 5 points ahead of Renault and Sauber. They should consider themselves lucky as both Renaults retired from point scoring positions. It looks like they will be caught by Renault and it is just a matter of time. They are not fast and not reliable either which delays their improvement in performance until they sort the problems out. Reliability 6.5/10 - Speed 8.5/10
Drivers: David Coulthard was once again behind his team-mate in both Qualifying and the race. He was fortunate to finish 3rd however when Raikkonen and Button where in the race, he didn't appear to be closing the gap to them. A top 6 finish is possible.
Kimi Raikkonen is almost as unlucky as Barrichello. The difference is though that he has proven several times already this season that he can beat his team-mate. He just needs a car that lasts. Expect a top 6 finish and possibly a podium if any of the cars in front hit problems (and if his car lasts!).
Renault: Had both cars running in the points in Spain before retiring. It is expected for a new team progressing rapidly to have setbacks but they will come back even stronger. They had a chance in Spain to take 3rd from McLaren. Now they'll have to wait a few races before they do that. Reliability 7.0/10 - Speed 8.5/10
Drivers: Jenson Button has once again beaten his team-mate Trulli who is considered an excellent qualifier. If Button continues this way, we are witnessing a World Champion in the making. Provided his car runs trouble free, expect him to finish in the points ahead of 1 McLaren.
Jarno Trulli is under enormous pressure to perform. 0 points against 8 for Jenson doesn't look good and he cannot blame the car all the time as when he is in the race he is usually behind his team-mate. If he doesn't get his act together, Alonso will be taking his seat. A top 10 finish is likely, he'll have to do well to get points.
Sauber: They are now on equal points with Renault and in the next few races they might even take 4th outright but their pace is definitely not on par with Renault and once Renault sort out their reliability, Sauber will be back in 5th place fighting with BAR, Jordan and Arrows. Reliability 8.5/10 - Speed 8.0/10
Drivers: Nick Heidfeld drove a good race and benefited from the retirements ahead and finished 4th in Spain. While it is unlikely that we'll have a repeat scenario, it is possible the he may score some points. A top 10 finish outside the points is more likely though.
Felipe Massa also drove well in Spain and managed to score 2 more points. This will give him a needed boost. Scoring again here given the competition is unlikely though.
Jaguar: They publicly admit that their car won't be competitive until Silverstone. In fact the car has been far less reliable than it has been at the start of the season yet they are not showing any speed even in qualifying. Lets wait and see what they'll come up with come Silverstone. Reliability 7.0/10 - Speed 5.5/10
Drivers: Eddie Irvine like everyone at Jaguar, he doesn't expect much over the next few races. If he finishes he'll be outside the points and more likely than not outside the top 10.
Pedro de la Rosa appears to have given up on the car but he needs to be careful as spinning out of races is very bad for a driver in the eyes of the team boss and the other team bosses. With all the changes at Jaguar, they might decide to change both their drivers next season. A finish is possible outside the top 10.
Minardi: Had to pull out of the Spanish GP due to wing failures. That was very unfortunate for the team as Webber looked like embarrassing a few other teams had he raced. Reliability 6.5/10 - Speed 5.5/10
Drivers: Mark Webber continues to impress in qualifying and in the race (if the team gives him a reliable car), he'll get more out of the car but even that wouldn't put him inside the top 10!.
Alex Yoong didn't start again in Spain but that was due to the car. Still he was way behind Webber and that won't change!.
Toyota: Struggled at Spain claiming their car wasn't suited to this track. They should do better on this track, they may even threat one of the Honda runners - Reliability 6.5/10 - Speed 7.5/10
Drivers: Mika Salo finished in Spain a lap behind and outside the points despite all the retirements. He should do better here but if the cars in front don't drop out, he won't score points.
Allan McNish drove a good race in Spain yet that was only good for 8th. Repeating that here would be very hard.
Arrows: Have finally shown the
potential they have. Running the same engines as Jaguar, they were streets
ahead. Reliability improved but not by much. Luckily for them it affected only
Bernoldi in Spain while Frentzen went on to finish 6th. They have the worst
finishing record so far this season with only 2 finishes out of 10 attempts.
They have tested again last week so hopefully they will improve that record!
Drivers: Heinz Harald Frentzen scored the first point for his team this season and expect more to come. He is one of the most experienced driver on the grid today and he deserves to be driving a competitive car. A top 10 finish is likely. Watch for a close fight with Sauber and the 2 Honda runners.
Enrique Bernoldi has yet to finish a race this season. That is mainly due to the car. He had a good battle with Villeneuve in Spain so he has what it takes. He needs a reliable car though. Top 10 finish if his car lasts.
BAR: Once again finish one car in 7th. One would think that its a good sign but when you look at the retirements, they really went a step back as Arrows managed to finish in front. They say that Austria suits them better. We'll see. Reliability 6.5/10 - Speed 7.5/10
Drivers: Jacques Villeneuve finished 7th again in Spain but was beaten by Frentzen. He didn't qualify well either and was behind his team-mate. He seems to waiting for Canada when he believes the car will have a big step forward. Does he still believe those people ? A top 10 finish possible, points, not really!
Olivier Panis is another one of those unlucky drivers. He has yet to finish a race yet none of the retirements were his fault. He'll eventually get there if BAR sort their car out. If he finishes he'll make it into the top 10.
Jordan: They are going down fast.
If they are not careful, they'll be the next Prost. Double retirements twice
in a row don't help and neither does having the second worse finishing record
so far with 3 finishes from 10 starts. Eddie Jordan must be a worried
Drivers: Giancarlo Fisichella is in a very similar situation to Villeneuve and must be regretting signing a 3 year deal with the team. If the situation at Jordan continues (especially with the rumours that Honda might drop them) then he'll be looking for a way out. Expect him to try and make the best out of the car though and if it doesn't fail him, he'll finish the best Honda runner but outside the points though!.
Takuma Sato isn't given a chance to show his potential with just 2 finishes out of 5. It is good for the sport to have a good Japanese driver. Lets hope the car gets better. A finish inside the top 10 will be difficult.
6 'n' Pole and see how your predictions stack up against the others.