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2003 European Grand Prix 
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Can Bridgestone dominate at the 'Ring this year ?

Last year the Ferrari/Bridgestone package was so dominant at the Nurburgring that no other team even came close. This year though it appears that the Michelins are the dominant tyre and despite the superior Ferrari both Williams and McLaren are able to fight them.
Having three of the four top teams on Michelins seems to be helping with finding the optimum compounds whereas Bridgestone has only Ferrari (as a top team) to gather data from. 

The 'Ring is a relatively high downforce circuit with emphasis on good braking and traction. The track isn't hard on tyres.

Teams were testing at Silverstone and Jerez last week. At Silverstone, Ferrari were fastest although Williams, Sauber and Jaguar were close. At Jerez, Renault were fastest ahead of McLaren and Toyota. 
Toyota were also testing at Paul Ricard and Ferrari at Fiorano. 
The new McLaren was present at Jerez. The new car won't be raced at the Nurburgring nor Magny-Cours.

Ferrari: They are now firmly in the lead in the Constructors' Championship 9 points ahead of McLaren. Their star driver Michael Schumacher managed to snatch a win from Williams despite having brake and tyre problems. They are obviously struggling with their tyres and that is allowing Williams and McLaren and even Renault on some tracks to catch up.
Reliability 9.5/10 - Speed 9.5/10

Drivers: Michael Schumacher took the lead in the Drivers' Championship for the first time this season. He drove a superb race in Montreal and proved once again that he still has what it takes. The Nurburgring though may prove an even tougher race with all 3 top Michelin runners expected to be strong but you can never discount Michael from winning.  

Rubens Barrichello yet again proved that he isn't even close to the qualities of Michael. Finishing 5th in Canada was embarrassing. Last year he won this race, don't expect a repeat.

McLaren: They lost the lead in the Constructors' Championship thanks to a car failure and some youthful exuberance. Given all the delays with introducing the new car, it is embarrassing to see the old car fail. They should be strong here though provided that Michelin provide them with a good tyre.
Reliability 8.5/10 - Speed 9.0/10

Drivers: Kimi Raikkonen gave up his lead in the Drivers Championship thanks to a mistake in his qualifying lap. He managed to recover nicely and score 3 points but he could have done much better. A return to podium finishes is possible at the 'Ring.

David Coulthard didn't really feature in Montreal before retiring with a gearbox problem. Don't expect miracles here either!

Williams: They are on a charge and are catching McLaren fast. They should have won in Montreal but Ralf Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya gave it away. They'll be strong here. Reliability 9.0/10 - Speed 9.0/10

Drivers: Ralf Schumacher threw away a win in Canada as he did in Monaco. He is a consistent finisher but seems to be unable to find a winning way. A top 6 is likely.

Juan Pablo Montoya spun in Montreal effectively losing him the chance to win the race. That is 2 races this season that he gives away points. He could win this race if he doesn't commit yet another mistake. 

Renault: No one expected Alonso to catch Michael and the 2 Williams towards the end of the race at Montreal. With an underpowered engine on a low downforce track, it was certainly unexpected but Renault (with Alonso) continue to surprise everyone. They will be strong at the 'Ring.  
Reliability 9.0/10 - Speed 8.5/10

Drivers: Fernando Alonso almost managed a podium finish in Canada against all expectations. In fact he may have done it had he loaded up with a lighter fuel load for qualifying. Expect another strong race from this young driver and a podium is possible. 

Jarno Trulli struggled in Montreal but it wasn't all his fault. Still he appears to be outclassed by his younger team-mate and his future at the team is starting to look shaky. 

Jordan: 2 DNF's at Montreal simply highlighted the problems this team has. Privately run teams are struggling in F1. Jaguar, BAR and Toyota are moving ahead of them.
Reliability 6.5/10 - Speed 7.5/10

Drivers: Giancarlo Fisichella happens to be in the wrong team. He needs to drive for a better team before it is too late. Points finish will be hard.

Ralph Firman hasn't done too bad compared to his more experienced team-mate but hasn't shown the skill that would make other teams consider him.

BAR: They suffered a double retirement in Canada. Rather than Villeneuve getting a lucky break, his team-mate Button was also hit with bad luck. When will they get the car sorted ?
Reliability 6.5/10 - Speed 8.0/10

Drivers: Jenson Button drove what appeared to be a strong race before suffering problems. He needs a reliable car to prove his potential.

Jacques Villeneuve suffered yet another retirement in Canada, this time due to brake failure. He appeared to be on the right strategy but nothing counts if you're unable to finish. He could do well at the 'Ring. Points will be hard though.

Sauber: They are in 7th place and just 2 points ahead of Jaguar. The dramatic drop in their performance this year compared to last is more a testament to how much the other mid-fielders have improved. The reliability of the Ferrari engine though is worrying.
Reliability 6.5/10 - Speed 7.5/10

Drivers: Heinz Harald Frentzen suffered from problems early on the race in Canada. He could do better here but points will be a matter of being consistent, reliable and lucky!.

Nick Heidfeld seems to be fading away. We don't hear much about him these days!.

Jaguar: They managed to finish both their cars in Montreal (well Pizzonia retired 4 laps from the end but was classified as a finisher!) following a double DNF in Monaco. That must be a good achievement for the team. The car wasn't fast though.
Reliability 7.0/10 - Speed 8.0/10

Drivers: Mark Webber finished yet again in the points and against the odds. Jaguar need to give him a good car to excel further. Points will be difficult.

Antonio Pizzonia was once again shadowed by his team-mate. One wonders if he'll make it till the end of the season. 

Toyota: They've showed some potential by running 8th and 9th until a few laps from the end in Montreal. Still they are a long way away from the top teams. 
Reliability 7.0/10 - Speed 8.0/10

Drivers: Cristiano da Matta was on track for his second points finish of the season but was robbed of it a few laps from the end due to a suspension problem. At least his team-mate was there to take it. The Nurburgring isn't a familiar track to da Matta and he'll struggle a bit. Points will be hard.

Olivier Panis finally scores a point and gets lucky for a change. Still, he should have been ahead of his team-mate on a track that he knows too well.

Minardi: Got more attention off the track than on it with the public match between Stoddard and Dennis and the injection of cash into the team by Mr. Ecclestone himself. None of which will make a dramatic turnaround to the on track performance of the team which will once again be at the back.
Reliability 6.0/10 - Speed 6.5/10

Drivers: Jos Verstappen did well in Canada to finish 9th and was pretty close to scoring the first point for the team. He'll just have to be there and get a little lucky to score.

Justin Wilson also did well in Canada despite failing to finish. He is proving a tough competitor for the much more experienced Verstappen which will help him in his career. 

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