Williams dominated at Hockenheim and Ferrari struggled. The Hungaroring is
the tightest track on the calendar after Monaco and Williams won the race
there so don't be surprised to see Williams dominate here.
The circuit has been modified with the start-finish straight extended and a
tighter turn 1. Also the section between turn 11 and 12 has been extended. The
changes have extended the lap by around 400 meters and the number of laps for
the race have dropped from 77 to 70 laps.
The changes will make the circuit more demanding on the engine so power
will become more of an issue on this track however it is unlikely that the
changes will affect overtaking as the track is expected to remain very dirty
off the racing line making it nearly impossible to overtake.
Given the testing ban in place, there was no testing in the 3 weeks since
the last grand prix.
Ferrari: Held the lead in the Constructors' Championship by just 2
points following the race at Hockenheim. They need to pull all the stops
if they want to leave Hungary in the lead. The pressure is on Ferrari and
that may translate into reliability problems as they try to close the gap
to Williams. The team acknowledges that the Hungarian race will be a tough
one for them.
Reliability 9.5/10 - Speed 9.0/10
Michael Schumacher could have been in a much better position
had his tyre not fail him a few laps from the end at Hockenheim but these
things happen and Michael has usually been on the good side of fortune rather
than the bad. He'll need all the help he can get to maintain a reasonable gap
between himself and Montoya and Raikkonen in the Drivers' Championship. Expect
him to still be leading the championship but with a lesser margin. A podium
finish is always a possibility with Michael although this time it will be
Rubens Barrichello was a victim at the start of the race at
Hockenheim. He won the race here last year so he could be stronger than
his team-mate but whether Ferrari will let that happen remains to be seen.
Podium a possibility but difficult.
Williams: They looked so dominant in Hockenheim that they
must be the clear favourites for the last 4 races of the season. Their
package seems to be working superbly on any kind of track and with the
expected heat at the Hungaroring, expect another Michelin advantage. And
whilst there is a lot of pressure on them, there is more on Ferrari.
9.5/10 - Speed 9.5/10
Juan Pablo Montoya takes second in the Drivers' Championship and is on
a roll. He struggled in Hungary last year but his recent successes may help
overcome that. He needs to finish ahead of Michael and Kimi if he is to
continue his championship challenge and given his form in Hockenheim that
shouldn't be too difficult.
Ralf Schumacher was behind the crash at the start of the race at
Hockenheim. The stewards decided to penalise him by relegating him 10
positions from the start at the Hungaroring. The appeal hearing will be
announced on the 19th and if the decision is upheld then Ralf will have a
tough race but if the appeal is successful, he will revive his chances in
McLaren: Despite having an old car, they can do well on this
track however they seem to be drifting back now in the Constructors'
Championship that unless both Williams and Ferrari struggle, they seem to
have settled for 3rd.
Reliability 8.5/10 - Speed 9.0/10
Drivers: Kimi Raikkonen was the other victim of the crash
at the start of the Hockenheim race although one could say that had he been
conservative he may have survived but what do you do when the car in front is
much slower getting off the line ?. Expect Kimi to bounce back strongly here
with a podium finish highly likely.
David Coulthard finished second at Hockenheim thanks
to the retirement of most of the drivers in front of him. He is consistent but
isn't fast and he'll have a good finish if the cars ahead of him struggle.
Don't expect a podium though.
Renault: They are now comfortable in 4th place in the Constructors'
Championship way ahead of BAR in 5th and way behind McLaren in 3rd. Expect
them to take some risks that will either move them closer to the front
pack or result in their retirement. Hungary should be good for them though
especially that they are the only top team that did a reasonable amount of
testing at Hockenheim in preparation for this race.
Reliability 8.0/10 - Speed 9.0/10
Fernando Alonso managed 4th at Hockenheim which was a good result
for him given that he was on soft tyres under extremely hot conditions. He
should do well here with a podium a possibility.
Jarno Trulli managed to finish on the podium at
Hockenheim as the team announced that they'll retain him for 2004. He
could have another podium finish here although expect Alonso to beat him
BAR: Are just 1 point ahead of Toyota and 3 ahead of
Jaguar in the championship. With those two running on Michelins expect BAR
to drop to 7th by the end of the season. It will be an interesting fight
Reliability 7.0/10 - Speed 8.0/10
Drivers: Jenson Button has yet again managed to score a
point despite his Bridgestone tyres. It appears that the car suits him more
than Villeneuve and the results are showing. Points will only be possible
several front runners drop out or struggle.
Jacques Villeneuve seems to be dropping to new lows and his and
his teams race strategy calls don't seem to help either. The way things are
going, it is unlikely that we'll see him in F1 next season.
Toyota: Scored as many points in the last race as they
did in the whole season. Sure they benefited from the retirement of 3 top
cars and Michael's struggle but they demonstrated they were the best of
the rest and that puts them in a position to collect those points left
over from the top teams. Expect more of the same here.
Reliability 8.0/10 -
Drivers: Cristiano da Matta finished right behind his
more experienced team-mate at Hockenheim despite it being a new track for him.
da Matta is gaining confidence and he'll do well here. Points finish possible
Olivier Panis managed to bounce back after the disappointment
of Silverstone. This is the level that Panis should be at all the time. Expect
a top 10 finish possibly in the points.
Jaguar: They've struggled in the last 2 races. Whether it is just
the car characteristics didn't suit or that Toyota and BAR made
significant improvements remains to be seen. Star driver Mark Webber seems
to be going through a bad phase while Wilson needs to adjust to a new team
Reliability 7.5/10 - Speed 7.5/10
Drivers: Mark Webber struggled again at Hockenheim
especially as he tried to overtake Jenson Button and went off. Hungary should
suit him and the car so he may have a chance of a points finish.
Justin Wilson didn't get much of a chance to prove himself in his
new team when he sustained damage at the start of the race in Hockenheim. He
didn't do too bad in qualifying although we'll never know how much fuel he had
compared to Webber. A top 10 finish is possible but points are unlikely.
Jordan: Continue to race closer to Minardi. They must be working on
next year's car.
Reliability 7.5/10 - Speed 6.5/10
Giancarlo Fisichella is struggling to race at the back. That is
affecting him a lot and may affect his chances of moving to a better team.
Ralph Firman retired from the race at Hockenheim but expect him to
match or even beat Fisichella here.
Sauber: They are now 9th in the championship only ahead of Minardi.
In terms of pace they are faster than Jordan but Fisichella's win in
Brazil may help them stay ahead. Sauber will need a bit of luck if they
are to move into 8th.
Reliability 7.5/10 - Speed 7.0/10
Drivers: Heinz Harald Frentzen was another victim at the
start in Hockenheim and we don't know how he would have done but it would have
unlikely been in the points.
Nick Heidfeld seems to be in danger of losing his seat at the
team next year. Team boss was clearly disappointed by his form at Hockenheim
when he finished 10th. Don't expect much more here.
Minardi: They'll once again be at the back. They need a lucky
break if they are to score points at all this season but even if they
score points they are so far from the rest of the teams that they will
finish last in the championship.
Reliability 7.0/10 - Speed 6.0/10
Drivers: Jos Verstappen had a reasonable race at
Hockenheim before he retired. He needs a bit of luck to beat a few other cars
and secure his place for next season.
Nicolas Kiesa did well by finishing the race at Hockenheim and was
pretty close to Verstappen in qualifying. Perhaps Verstappen faces some strong
Pole and see how your predictions stack up against the others.
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