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Ferrari to dominate again ?
Following their dominant win at the Nurburgring, Ferrari
will be expected to dominate again at Silverstone but Williams and McLaren
will try to pull all the stops to upset Ferrari at their home Grand Prix.
Last year Mika Hakkinen on a 2 stop strategy managed to win the race convincingly over 30 seconds ahead of Michael Schumacher. It is unlikely that McLaren can repeat that performance however they have been closing the gap to Ferrari over the last few races and at the Nurburgring were clearly ahead of Williams in race trim.
Last week, most of the Formula 1 teams were testing at various venues. Williams, McLaren, Renault, Sauber, Jordan, Jaguar and Arrows were at Barcelona. Ferrari were testing at 3 fronts (Mugello, Fiorano and Monza), BAR were also at Mugello while Toyota were testing at their home track at Paul Ricard.
Ferrari: Dominated at the Nurburgring and will
probably dominate again here but don't expect the gap to be huge to Williams
Drivers: Michael Schumacher is on his way to
his 5th world title. He is 46 points ahead in the Drivers' Championship and
didn't need team-orders to help him increase his gap. He'll face some
competition in qualifying but the Bridgestone tyres will give him an edge in
Rubens Barrichello drove a great race at the Nurburgring. Michael's spin ensured that he would only lose the lead by team orders. He could challenge Michael here especially following his win at the Nurburgring. A second place finish is more likely though.
Williams: They seem untouchable in
qualifying but struggle in the race and that is mainly due to tyres.
Unfortunately for Williams, Poles don't score points so they need to fix their
tyre problems quickly or McLaren could challenge them for second. If their
cars last and Montoya stays out of trouble, a top 6 finish for both cars is
Drivers: Ralf Schumacher drove within the limits of his car and finished 4th at the Nurburgring. He was clearly struggling with his tyres. Expect much of the same here.
Juan Pablo Montoya qualified on Pole for the 3rd time in a row yet he
failed to finish for the 3rd time in a row. This time though he was to blame
for his spin as he tried to defend his position from Coulthard. Had he not
retired he would have finished in the points and that is something the Montoya
doesn't seem to master.
McLaren: They did a good job at the Nurburgring although the track seemed to suit their car. Raikkonen finished on the podium and Coulthard would have finished in the points too possibly in front of Raikkonen had he retired. They are certainly fighting back and if they get a good tyre from Michelin, they could surprise even Ferrari. Reliability 8.5/10 - Speed 9.0/10
Drivers: David Coulthard was unlucky to be hit by Montoya at the Nurburgring but had he been patient, he would have passed Montoya through the pits as Montoya was struggling with his tyres. He will try his best for a good result at his home Grand Prix and could manage a podium finish.
Kimi Raikkonen managed to finish on the podium for the second time this season. He was lucky that both Coulthard and Montoya retired in front of him but he was close to challenge them on the track anyway. He is very strong in qualifying and if his race car is reliable, he'll challenge Coulthard and may finish ahead of him. A podium finish is possible.
Renault: Did well to finish in the points at the Nurburgring and they have another chance here. They don't seem to have the pace of McLaren or Williams yet but they are working hard and are closing the gap slowly. They'll be in the points if any of the top teams run into problems. Reliability 8.0/10 - Speed 8.0/10
Drivers: Jenson Button finished in 5th place at the Nurburgring after a superb race. He'll want to repeat that performance in front of his home crowd.
Jarno Trulli seems to have regained his edge in qualifying but still makes costly mistakes in the race. At the Nurburgring, a spin certainly cost him a points finish. He cannot afford a repeat of that here as he is 6 points behind his team-mate and points at this level are very hard to get. If he drives faultlessly he'll probably finish in the points.
Sauber: They are now behind Renault but ahead of the Honda powered teams. For how long they can stay there depends on how fast the Honda runners can improve. They still managed to finish a car in the points thanks to the retirements of Coulthard and Montoya as well as Trulli's mistake. They won't be able to finish in the points unless cars ahead of them drop out. Reliability 8.5/10 - Speed 7.5/10
Drivers: Nick Heidfeld finished 7th at the Nurburgring behind his team-mate. That would have been disappointing for him given that he qualified ahead of Massa. Points scoring will be difficult here but will likely finish in the top 10.
Felipe Massa finished in the points for the 3rd time this season. This time though he was in front of his team-mate and that would have been a greater achievement for him. A repeat performance will be very difficult here. A top 10 finish is likely.
Jordan: Failed to finish in the
points at the Nurburgring thanks to a first corner incident between their 2
drivers. They did struggle though and even if Fisichella didn't crash into
Sato, points would have been nearly impossible. They usually do well at their
home Grand Prix so they could be a surprise.
Drivers: Giancarlo Fisichella had a terrible race after qualifying down in 18th at the Nurburgring. He will do much better here but like Sauber, points will be hard to achieve. A top 10 finish outside the points is more likely.
Takuma Sato seems to be improving over the last few races. He needs to prove himself otherwise he'll be regarded as another Japanese driver who never made it. He is unlikely to challenge Fisichella but will be close. A top 10 finish is possible.
Jaguar: They tested their heavily modified car at Barcelona and still managed to be at the bottom of the timesheets. They are too slow to make any significant steps forward to challenge their closest rivals. Reliability 6.5/10 - Speed 6.5/10
Drivers: Eddie Irvine claims that they'll be a surprise at Silverstone. After the event he'll be saying they needed more testing.
Pedro de la Rosa will be hoping to get a good result in the improved Jaguar. He is under s lot of pressure as Alonso and Webber have shown in testing that they can match his pace after just a day in the car!
Minardi: They appear to have survived their financial storm. The car is too slow to match the rest on pace though. They must be working on next year's car and hope that they can benefit from the failure of others. Reliability 7.0/10 - Speed 5.5/10
Drivers: Mark Webber impressive but in a slow car. He has proved himself though and next year will be driving a better car. He'll once again do his best at Silverstone but that won't be enough for a top 10 finish.
Alex Yoong will struggle on this track and may even fail to qualify.
Toyota: They are going through a tough period only finishing one car in the last 3 races. The expectations they set early in the season have been replaced by disappointments. This will be another tough race for them - Reliability 6.0/10 - Speed 7.0/10
Drivers: Mika Salo has retired from the last 3 races. His qualifying performances have been good though so it is likely that his car is not helping him in the race. A top 10 finish will be tough.
Allan McNish is running out of time to prove that he is worthy of retaining his seat at Toyota or even remain in Formula 1. A lot of younger drivers are capable of matching or bettering his performances. He has to do well here but it will be tough.
Arrows: Had a relatively good
weekend at the Nurburgring and will be looking to improve on that here. It
will be interesting to see how they shape against the improved Jaguar as they
both run the same engines.
Drivers: Heinz Harald Frentzen failed to finish in the top 10 at the Nurburgring thanks to a re-fuelling problem. He could finish in the top 10.
Enrique Bernoldi managed to finish as the best of the Cosworth runners at the Nurburgring and that must have given him a confidence boost. If his car lasts (he's finished 2 of the last 3 races) he could again challenge his team-mate.
BAR: Continue to struggle, new package, new engine, whatever .... they are not good enough for points. It must be embarrassing for David Richards and Geoffrey Willis not to have been able to improve the car enough. The second half of the season will be crucial. Reliability 6.5/10 - Speed 7.0/10
Drivers: Jacques Villeneuve seems distracted by all the talk about his future. He had a number of dismal qualifying performances this season and that isn't good sign. He usually does well at Silverstone but points will be out of the equation.
Olivier Panis continues to gain confidence in the car and his luck seems to be turning around too. He managed to be the best Honda qualifier and finisher. Not good enough if you're just inside the top 10. He'll face more stiff competition from the Jordan drivers here and like Jacques, points are nearly impossible.
6 'n' Pole and see how your predictions stack up against the others.