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2002 French Grand Prix 
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Can Williams challenge Ferrari ?

For the last 3 races, Williams and particularly Juan Pablo Montoya have challenged Ferrari in Qualifying but in the race Ferrari have managed to get ahead and win the races with relative ease. The previous race at Silverstone Montoya appeared to be able to hold off Michael Schumacher during the early stages of the race but once the rain came down it was all over. The Michelins were questionable on a dry track over a race distance, in the wet they had no hope.

The weather at the Magny-Cours circuit where the French Grand Prix is held will certainly be warmer than what it was at Silverstone but that doesn't mean it won't rain and if it does then it will be a dominating race from Ferrari, if it doesn't then Williams may have a chance!

Last year Michael Schumacher won the race from Ralf Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello. David Coulthard was fourth with Trulli and Heidfeld making the top 6.
Ralf Schumacher started from pole but a slow pit stop allowed Michael to take the lead and went on to win it. David Coulthard managed to stay with the leaders until after his first stop when he was given a 10-second stop-go penalty for speeding in the pitlane.

Last week, all the Formula 1 teams with the exception of Minardi were testing at various venues. Ferrari tested at Mugello and Fiorano, Renault, Sauber, Jordan, Arrows and Williams were at Valencia. Williams were also testing at Monza alongside BAR, Jaguar and Toyota while McLaren were testing in private at Paul Ricard.
Some of the highlights from testing were:
Michael Schumacher breaking the record for the Fiorano track
McLaren whilst not releasing lap times were testing "reasonable big development items" according to their Managing Director Martin Whitmarsh.
Australian James Courtney crashed heavily in the Jaguar while testing at Monza. Luckily he was not injured.
Despite their financial problems, Arrows gave Frenchman Sebastien Bourdais a run in their A23 and set some impressive time.

Ferrari: Managed a 1-2 finish at Silverstone even though Barrichello started the race from 21st and last!. The rain helped though. They will face tough competition here from Williams unless it rains again!.
Reliability 9.5/10 - Speed 9.5/10

Drivers: Michael Schumacher can wrap up the Drivers Championship here provided that he wins the race and neither Rubens Barrichello nor Juan Pablo Montoya finish in second. That is possible but unlikely given that those two would be his most likely challengers for the win. 
Michael has finished in the top 3 in every race so far this season (and winning 7 of them). There is nothing to indicate he won't be able to achieve that yet again here. 

Rubens Barrichello managed a storming drive from the back of the grid to finish second at Silverstone. While the rain did help, he still managed to get into 7th place before the rain even started to fall. 
Rubens is enjoying the freedom to race Michael and he is proving to be very close to him on occasions. His confidence will continue to grow and he'll prove to be a tough contender for Michael for the rest of the season. A top 3 finish is likely.

Williams: They continue to have superb qualifying yet average races and the problem appears to be in the tyres. The last race didn't give us a good nictation of how their new aerodynamic package dealt with the tyres so they could be more competitive here. 
Reliability  9.0/10 - Speed 9.0/10

Drivers: Juan Pablo Montoya managed to finish on the podium at Silverstone despite the wet track. He drove brilliantly given the level of grip the Michelin tyres provide under were conditions. If it doesn't rain and the Michelins last, he'll challenge for the win. 
It will also be interesting to see if he can make it 6 in a row from Pole!

Ralf Schumacher finished a low 8th at the British GP but that wasn't really his fault as his pit crew struggled to re-fuel his car at his first stop. Last year he started from Pole and could have won had it not been for yet another slow pit stop. He could also challenge for the win..

McLaren: Yet again we've seen them struggle with strategy when weather conditions are mixed. At Silverstone, their drivers pitted 4 times each!
They'll be praying for dry weather so as not to repeat the embarrassment. They appear to be gentler on tyres and that may help them. Challenging Williams and Ferrari will be tough.
Reliability 8.0/10 - Speed 8.5/10

Drivers: David Coulthard had a disappointing race at home managing only 10th and will want to erase that event from his memory. He has done well at Magny-Cours in the past winning in 2000. A top 6 is likely.

Kimi Raikkonen has only managed to finish 3 out of the 10 races so far this season and must be wondering why his car fails far more than his team-mate's. 
When he does finish though he has finished no less than 4th!. Expect the same here!

Renault: Failed to finish either of their cars at Silverstone (Button was classified 12th but 6 laps down!). They seem to build their cars just to last the race and sometimes a bit less as most of their failures this season have been in the latter stages of races.
This is their home grand prix and they will want to put on a good show. Providing they last they could score points but in order to do that they need to challenge the McLarens Reliability 7.0/10 - Speed 8.0/10

Drivers: Jenson Button appears to be getting distracted by his future in F1 and that won't help him. Trulli seems to be starting to get comfortable in the team and that won't help him either. This is a crucial race for Jenson and he needs to do well. A top 6 finish is possible.

Jarno Trulli has certainly improved in the Renault compared to earlier in the season particularly in qualifying. He needs to carry that through to the race where he still needs to improve. Like Jenson, he could score a point or two.

Sauber: They should have scored more than a point at Silverstone in the wet. They are the second Bridgestone team behind Ferrari. Heidfeld managed to score a points but Massa should have scored too. These point scoring opportunities are getting harder as the teams behind them catch up. At Magny-Cours they'll be lucky to pick a point. 
Reliability 8.5/10 - Speed 7.5/10

Drivers: Nick Heidfeld managed to pick a point at Silverstone but should have done better than that. It will be very hard to score points here unless it is another wet race. 

Felipe Massa was the driver with the most spins at Silverstone. Surprisingly he recovered every time but the result was 9th place where he should and could have finished in the points. More experience needed.
A top 10 is likely here..

Jordan: Like Sauber should have capitalised on the conditions and scored points but they didn't. Qualifying in 14th and 17th didn't help either. They do need to improve fast if they even want to remain in 6th in the championship.
Reliability 7.0/10 - Speed 7.5/10

Drivers: Giancarlo Fisichella once again isn't performing up to expectations. For the last 2 races he has qualified 17th or lower. Is he fed up with the Jordan Honda ?
A top 10 finish is possible..

Takuma Sato seems to be on the way up but whether it is good enough to keep him in the team remains to be seen. He has out-qualified Fisichella twice in a row now.
His best finish so far this season has been in 9th place and he needs to better that if he is to stay in F1 next season. 

BAR: Have finally managed to score points for the first time this season and they scored 5 of them which took them to 7th in the Championship from last. They need to improve their car further if they are to score any more points this season. 
Reliability 7.0/10 - Speed 7.5/10

Drivers: Jacques Villeneuve managed to finish 4th at Silverstone which must be a relief for him following a bad start to the season. More points won't be easy at all.

Olivier Panis struggled in qualifying at Silverstone for a reason or another but managed to get it right and score points in the race. He would love to be able to finish in the points at his home GP but that would be very hard.

Jaguar: The heavily revised R3 was a flop on its debut qualifying in 19th and 21st. That is the team's second worst qualifying performance this season so the team goes on about not having the time to test the car fully yet. Well don't expect any magic here!
Reliability 7.0/10 - Speed 6.0/10

Drivers: Eddie Irvine was probably very surprised to see that the revised Jaguar didn't live up to his expectations!. If he doesn't spin out of the race, he'll find it hard to finish in the top 10.

Pedro de la Rosa qualified last at Silverstone and finished last in the race too. Even though Lauda insists that he will stay with the team, it doesn't look promising for the Spaniard! 

Minardi: Despite their shoe-string budget they still manage to qualify in front of team with much bigger budgets like Jaguar. That however doesn't translate into points and having just one driver starting a race doesn't translate into points either.
They need luck, luck and more luck to score more points this season.
Reliability 6.5/10 - Speed 6.0/10

Drivers: Mark Webber lost an opportunity to score points in the wet at Silverstone as he spun out of the race. Another opportunity like that is hard to come by.
A top 10 is possible if several cars in front hit problems.

Alex Yoong failed to qualify for the second race this season. His boss claims that if he doesn't make it again this season his position will be questioned. Well Magny-Cours isn't that easy to learn!.

Toyota: They continue to perform poorly. They have only managed to get 1 car to the end of a race since the Monaco GP. After an impressive start to their Formula 1 campaign, they must be wondering what is going wrong!
Reliability 5.5/10 - Speed 6.5/10

Drivers: Mika Salo has done very well in qualifying but it appears that the car isn't reliable enough to finish a race. If his car lasts he should be able to challenge for a top 10 finish.

Allan McNish isn't doing very well and the car isn't helping. He needs to perform well to retain his seat for next year but it is looking less likely.
He needs a top 10 finish but it will be tough.

Arrows: Fought off a serious financial crisis that almost prevented them from racing at Silverstone. Despite missing both Friday practice sessions, they still managed to qualify both their cars in front of the two Jaguar's. A strong message to Ford perhaps!
Reliability 6.5/10 - Speed 7.0/10

Drivers: Heinz Harald Frentzen could have finished in the points at Silverstone had his car lasted. That was a missed opportunity and it will be hard to score points here.

Enrique Bernoldi continues to improve and is qualifying closer to his more experienced team-mate. A top 10 finish is possible but tough!

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Session 2002 2001
First Friday Practice Results Report Notes Results
Second Friday Practice Results Report Notes Results
First Saturday Practice Results Report Notes Results
Second Saturday Practice Results Report Notes Results
Qualifying Results Report Notes Results
Warm-up Results Report Notes Results
Race Results Report Notes Results

What the teams and drivers said
Friday - Saturday - Sunday

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