Formula 1 news, results and statistics when you need it
Malaysian Grand Prix
Download the NewsOnF1.com
4 in a row for Ferrari ?
Who would bet against it ?
The form we've seen from the Ferraris at Albert Park
makes it almost a no-brainer to predict that they will be on top once
again at Sepang. That is of course provided that their Bridgestone tyres will be
once again superior to the Michelins.
Ferrari have won all 3 races that were held at the Sepang track and it looks like they will be able to maintain there dominance on this track.
Several teams conducted test sessions in Europe with Ferrari testing at both Fiorano and Mugello, McLaren and Toyota at Paul Ricard while Williams, BAR and Renault tested at Silverstone. The tests mainly concentrated on tyre evaluation and in Ferrari's case testing the reliability of the new F2002.
Will continue using the F2001 at Sepang and given the huge gap they have
over their main rivals, it is a sensible decision until the F2002 is fully
reliable. Depending on how they do here they may opt to introduce the
F2002 in time for San Marino or decide to bring it to Brazil.
Drivers: Michael Schumacher will be the one to beat and despite being beaten to Pole by his team-mate in Melbourne, expect him to grab pole here unless of course we get mixed weather conditions during qualifying where it becomes more of a lottery. In the race whether it is rain or shine Michael's chances look good for a win.
Rubens Barrichello failed to complete a lap in Melbourne because Ralf ran into the back of him. It would have been interesting to see how he would race against Michael but it was not meant to be. I expect Rubens to be motivated and will try to stay in touch with Michael. He'll qualify close to Michael and finish just behind him.
Didn't seem to have closed the gap to Ferrari however the tyres may have
been the critical factor. If Michelin do come up with a substantially
improved tyre then we may see a very close fight between the top 3.
Drivers: Ralf Schumacher could have finished on the
podium if he stayed calm behind Rubens going into the first corner. It seems
he opted for finishing in the barrier.
Juan Pablo Montoya showed us
yet again that he'll grab any opportunity to fight with Michael. This will
continue throughout the season.
McLaren: They still have reliability issues. Coulthard had major gearbox problems that put him out of the race. I do not know when will McLaren have a reliable car from the start of the season. The good news was that Kimi managed to finish. The bad news is that they seem to be behind Williams as well as Ferrari. Reliability 7/10 - Speed 9.0/10
Drivers: David Coulthard yet again starts the season with a lost opportunity. Instead of benefiting from the first corner crash that put him in the lead, his car fails him and ends up with no points. He would be hoping that his car lasts at Sepang. Expect a top 6 finish possibly in the top 3.
Kimi Raikkonen was impressive in his debut for
McLaren and his car lasted the distance. The only mistake he made was giving
away that 2nd place to Montoya after his pit stop. He still set the fastest
lap of the race though.
Jaguar: Found themselves in the points in Melbourne. Similar things have to happen if they are to finish in the points in Kuala Lumpur. There is already talk of reverting back to the old car from Brazil so the team realises the bad shape they are in. They'll be lucky to finish a car inside the top 10. Reliability 8/10 - Speed 5/10
Drivers: Eddie Irvine grabbed 4th place in Melbourne by beating the 2 Minardi's while the others retired. They will qualify and race at the back. A top 10 finish for Irvine if he is lucky again.
Pedro de la Rosa was close to
Irvine in Melbourne however both are struggling with the car and qualifying in
19th and 20th has to be depressing.
Minardi: Have Jaguar as their main competitor early in the season. Mark Webber out-qualified both Jaguar's and would have probably beaten both if his car didn't have problems. In any case, Minardi have scored points for the first time since the 1999 season and even though they were lucky, they deserved it. Reliability 7/10 - Speed 5/10
Drivers: Alex Yoong couldn't match his team-mate in
Melbourne. Now the tables turn and Yoong is racing at his home GP. I doubt
that he'll be able to out-qualify Webber though.
Mark Webber managed to impress everyone with his debut as he finished in 5th far exceeding his own expectations. A repeat of this performance will be unlikely but he will surely fight it out with the Jaguars and possibly Arrows at the back. A finish outside the top 10 is expected.
Toyota: Surprised everyone by
their reliability and their pace. They certainly look like they'll be
catching up with the mid-fielders soon. Most impressive was their engine
performance with both Toyota's setting top speeds. They still need a lot
of work on the chassis side though.
Drivers: Mika Salo managed to finish 6th but should
have been 5th had he been patient enough chasing Webber at the closing
stages of the race in Melbourne. One doesn't expect such a beginner's
mistake from such an experienced driver.
Allan McNish is eager to get behind the wheel of the Toyota after crashing out at the first corner in Melbourne. This is another new track for Allan and will need to learn the track quickly. We have yet to see his race performances but expect him to finish outside the top 10.
Sauber: Were very unlucky to have both of their cars retire on the first corner. Neither car completed a lap in the race so it is hard to tell how reliable their cars are, however Felipe Massa was either unlucky or too hard on his car as he kept parking the car on the track during the practice sessions. Reliability 8/10 - Speed 8.0/10
Drivers: Nick Heidfeld didn't have a chance to go
head to head with his ex-teammate Kimi Raikkonen. Expect the two to try
again at Sepang.
Felipe Massa out-qualified his team-mate on his Formula 1 debut. This guy is fast but he is prone to spins and crashes. Let's hope he cools down before his time runs out with the team. If he finishes he could score some points!
They were unreliable during the Australian GP weekend but Fisichella did
show some promise in qualifying. That promise didn't last as he was
knocked out at the start of the race. Takuma Sato had a disastrous start
to his Formula 1 career crashing his car in practice and failing to
qualify within the 107% of Pole time.
Drivers: Giancarlo Fisichella is fast but the car doesn't seem to be reliable. Expect a top 10 finish if his car lasts.
Takuma Sato had an unfortunate start to his F1 career but expect him to bounce back. Just hope that the car lasts. A finish will be unlikely.
BAR: They have lost a perfect
opportunity to score points at the start of the season after suffering a
rear-wing failure on Villeneuve's car. Before the failure, there was
something wrong with Villeneuve's car who appeared to struggle early in
Drivers: Jacques Villeneuve almost scored points for the team but crashed out as his rear-wing failed. Expect a better performance from him at Sepang with a top 10 finish.
Olivier Panis managed to outqualify Villeneuve in Melbourne but got entangled in the first corner crash. He'd be determined to finish the race in Malaysia. He could finish in the top 10 but it will be tough.
They are improving constantly with Trulli qualifying the best outside the
top 3 teams. This is a sign of things to come. Had Trulli not spun in the
oil during the race, a podium finish might have been possible.
Drivers: Jarno Trulli continues to show that he is an excellent qualifier yet under race conditions he appeared to have cracked under Michael's pressure and got onto an oily part of the track. Expect him to be strong in Malaysia and if the Michelin tyres improve he could finish in the points.
Jenson Button will find it hard to stay with Trulli in qualifying. His only chance is to perform better during the race but to do that he must stay out of trouble at the first corner. Expect a top 10 finish.
Arrows: They had major reliability problems during the Australian GP weekend and that was expected given the limited amount of testing they've done on their car. Their pace wasn't too bad although they were expected to do better than 15th and 17th in qualifying. Reliability 5/10 - Speed 6/10
Drivers: Heinz Harald Frentzen made the most of the car but appears to have forgotten a rule that says don't drive through a red light!. He could finish at Sepang if the car lasts but that is unlikely.
Enrique Bernoldi was disqualified from the race after starting in the spare car after the race had started. It appears that someone at Arrows needs to study the FIA regulations more thoroughly. If his car lasts he'll finish the race behind Frentzen.
6 'n' Pole and see how your predictions stack up against the others.