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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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 ?
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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
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!
6 'n' Pole and see how your predictions stack up against the others.