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Brazilian Grand Prix
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Williams vs. One Ferrari
With Ferrari deciding on taking one new car to Brazil. It looks like the battle will be between the 2 Williams drivers and Michael Schumacher.
At Malaysia, the Williams team surprised everyone by
finishing 1-2. The pace they demonstrated during the race showed that they
were the class of the field in race trim.
At Malaysia, it appeared that Michelin still have the upperhand when it comes to hot weather conditions. The same is likely to apply here.
Last week, with the exception of Arrows and Minardi, all the teams were testing at the Barcelona track. For 3 of the 4 days, the new Ferrari driven by Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello topped the timesheets and with a big margin to the rest of the field. They didn't however get too close to the lap record set earlier this year by Alexander Wurz in the McLaren.
Last year in Brazil , the Williams were very strong however 2 rear end collisions ended there chances of winning the race.
Williams: Who would have thought they would be leading the championship after the second round by 8 points!. They finished 1-2 in Malaysia and were very strong in race trim here last year. They are also very reliable. Another 1-2 finish for the BMW powered team is a real possibility. Reliability 9.5/10 - Speed 9.5/10
Drivers: Ralf Schumacher stayed out of trouble and won the race in Malaysia. His qualifying performance compared to his team-mate wasn't impressive and he'll need to improve in that area. A win is possible although his team-mate would have a better chance in Brazil.
Juan Pablo Montoya will not want to leave Brazil without a win. He must still be fuming because of the penalty he got in Malaysia and would want to put that behind him quickly. He also had terrible luck last year when Jos Verstappen crashed into the back of him while leading the race comfortably.
Ferrari: Having decided to use
one F2002 for Michael Schumacher while his spare and Barrichello's race car
and his spare will be the F2001, it will be difficult to read what their strategy
may be. However they won't be at level with Williams unless they race with the
F2002. The question remains though, how reliable will it be under race
Drivers: Michael Schumacher will be running with the new car, or at least that is what the team seems to be planning. If the new car is as fast as testing leads us to believe then he'll have a good chance of winning the race. That is assuming the car is reliable.
Rubens Barrichello must be disappointed for not having a chance to race the new car in front of his home crowd. The old car should be reliable (although he suffered an engine failure in Malaysia) but it will be off the pace of the Williams and the new Ferrari. His best chance will be 4th unless the cars ahead of him run into problems.
McLaren: They have reliability and speed problems. The fight for the championship appears to be once again a 2 way battle but McLaren is not part of that. Even if they fix their reliability problems, their pace is way down compared to the top teams. It looks like Renault or Sauber may have a chance at grabbing third place from them . Reliability 6.5/10 - Speed 9.0/10
Drivers: David Coulthard must be demotivated given that he has no points after 2 retirements and seeing that Williams and Ferrari are much faster. This will affect his driving and I wonder how much longer he will stay at McLaren. A top 6 finish is possible if his car lasts.
Kimi Raikkonen is more likely to handle the relatively slow McLaren better than David simply because he is new and this year will be a learning year for him. Expect him to beat Coulthard. A top 6 finish is possible if his car lasts.
Jaguar: Having decided to use the R3, expect them to continue to struggle at the back (Not that the R2 was much faster!). So far they have been lucky that Arrows aren't reliable, otherwise they would have been seriously embarrassed. Reliability 8/10 - Speed 5/10
Drivers: Eddie Irvine is in a similar situation to David, he is driving a car that can only score points if the cars in front drop out. That is why he doesn't seem to be trying and his team-mate has beaten him comprehensively in Malaysia. A top 10 finish will be unlikely.
Pedro de la Rosa will again get the better of his
team-mate here. He appears to be more comfortable with the car, however as he
didn't race here last year he may struggle a bit.
Renault: Almost had their first
podium finish in just their second race. This team continues to improve and by
mid-season expect them to be very close to McLaren fighting for third. The
will still suffer from teething problems so expect more car problems along the
Drivers: Jarno Trulli was surprisingly unimpressive in qualifying in Malaysia. In fact he struggled all weekend. Lets see if that was just a one off or will Jenson Button be a real match for him. If his car lasts, he could finish in the points.
Jenson Button was impressive in Malaysia and that should give him a confidence boost. He may even out-qualify Trulli yet again. A points finish is possible.
Sauber: They will have a tough fight with Renault.
The problem with Sauber is that they don't tend to improve as much as the
competition during the season (mainly due to running a customer engine). Last year they had the Honda runners to compete
with but this year they have Renault and they seen to be dead serious about
winning 4th place at the very least.
Drivers: Nick Heidfeld drove a good race in Malaysia and finished in 5th. His problem though is that he finished behind a Renault. A top 10 finish is likely, points will be hard!
Felipe Massa managed to complete a race in his second attempt. Given that he tends to spin frequently, that was a good achievement. He is fast though and in front of his home crowd he'll do his best to put on a good show. A top 10 finish is possible.
Minardi: Came crashing down to earth in Malaysia. After scoring points in Australia, they failed to finish either of their cars. Weather conditions didn't help but they won't help here either. Expect similar problems to Malaysia. Reliability 6/10 - Speed 5/10
Drivers: Alex Yoong was comprehensively beaten by his team-mate at his home Grand Prix, don't expect any better in Brazil. A finish is not likely.
Mark Webber drove a good race in Malaysia but the car couldn't take it. Expect him to have similar problems here. If his car lasts he'll finish outside the top 10.
Toyota: They almost scored more points in Malaysia had it not been for that bungled pit stop for McNish. This team is very serious about Formula 1 and will catch up with the Honda runners by mid-season. Reliability 7.5/10 - Speed 7/10
Drivers: Mika Salo would have finished in the points in Malaysia had his car not developed a problem forcing him into a lengthy pit stop. The Finn is fast though and if he gets a chance he could finish in the points.
Allan McNish has been outpaced by his more experienced team-mate and that would be expected but he is not even close. Brazil will be another difficult race for him as he hasn't driven there. He could finish inside the top 10.
BAR: With their Technical department restructured, one can say that this team has bottomed and that they will start improving with David Richards running the show and Geoff Willis (re)designing the car. The problem is that it will take them a while to improve. Add to that the Honda engine appears to be running at lower revs, their chances in Brazil are pretty slim to score points. Reliability 6.5/10 - Speed 7/10
Drivers: Jacques Villeneuve appears as if he has made up his mind on leaving the team at the end of the season. The car is not delivering and he seems to be wasting his time. He could finish in the top 10 but points will be next to impossible.
Olivier Panis is trying to remain motivated with a car that seems to be slower than last year's. A top 10 finish will be hard.
Jordan: They are certainly doing
better than BAR however they still seem to have niggling problems but even if
that isn't an issue, they need to tell Sato that going into the back of your
team-mate isn't acceptable. Due to that accident, we have yet to see the race
pace of the Jordan compared to the rest of the midfield runners.
Drivers: Giancarlo Fisichella finished 13th in Malaysia but that was due to him spending a long time in the pits while his car had a replacement rear-wing fitted. He had so far proven that he's the best Honda runner but even though, his chances of finishing in the points don't look that good.
Takuma Sato is not having the best of starts to his Formula 1 career and he has to take some of that blame. It remains to be seen how the first two races of the season will affect him. He'll be fighting with the 2 BAR's so a top 10 finish outside the points is a possibility.
Arrows: Last year we had McLaren
struggling off the line, this year it seems to be Arrows. For the second race
in a row, Frentzen can't get off the line. You'd think they'd fix the problem
but we saw last year how long it took McLaren to fix their starting problems. It seems
strange that given these problems, they still didn't conduct any on-track
testing last week!. Pity as it would be great to see them race without problems against
Drivers: Heinz Harald Frentzen finished 11th despite starting from the pit lane. That is just 1 position behind de la Rosa in the Jaguar. If his car gets off the line then expect a top 10 finish and ahead of both Jaguars.
Enrique Bernoldi showed some impressive form in Malaysia when he managed to re-pass Michael Schumacher. His team failed him though as he ran out of fuel just half a lap before his scheduled pit stop. One wonders how could that happen!. A finish inside the top 10 will be very difficult.
6 'n' Pole and see how your predictions stack up against the others.