Williams will be hard to beat despite
the tyre saga
Since the Hungarian Grand Prix the Ferrari team alerted their tyre partner
Bridgestone on the conditions that the Michelin tyres were in at the end of
the race. Ferrari noticed that the tread width on the Michelin tyres appears
to exceed the maximum allowed by the rules which is 270mm.
Bridgestone complained to the FIA about it and the FIA in turn issued a
reminder to both tyre suppliers that "effective immediately"
they will be measuring the tread of the tyre before and after use. Something
they haven't done since introducing grooved tyres. In the past the FIA have
always measured the tread width when new and both Michelin and Bridgestone
Despite complaining about the change in procedures by the FIA with just 3
races to go, Michelin have since produced a tyre that should comply with the
new measurement procedure and the FIA were satisfied with them. The way
Michelin achieved this was by making a slightly narrower tyre.
Will this affect Michelin's superiority in the tyre battle ? maybe by a small
bit but I doubt it will make a big difference.
The few extra millimetres of contact that the Michelin tyres may have had when
worn wouldn't be the main reason for superiority. Bridgestone and Ferrari have
the right to complain but the timing of it is questionable and it appears more
of a desperate attempt to distract Michelin and their runners from their
normal course of development. Of course if this attempt doesn't do the trick,
there may still be the possibility of Ferrari or Bridgestone contesting past
Whatever the outcome of the championship may be, lets hope that it is settled
on the track and not in the courtroom.
Monza is the only ultra low downforce circuit remaining on the calendar and
maximum power is critical on this track but since the engines are stressed to
the maximum, expect a few engines to let go. Last year Rubens Barrichello won
ahead of Michael Schumacher and Eddie Irvine. Both Williams retired as well as
Kimi Raikkonen. Ralf and Kimi suffered engine failures.
Last week all the teams conducted an extensive test at Monza where McLaren
and Ferrari were fastest with Williams very close behind. Testing though as
usual doesn't tell us much as we cannot make direct comparisons between the
teams or the drivers.
Williams: They've taken the lead in the Constructors'
Championship following another poor performance by Ferrari. The lead would
have been greater had the 2 Williams managed a good start. That problem
shouldn't affect them as much in Monza as their straight line speed should
help them regain positions lost. Again I don't believe the modified
Michelin tyres will be much of a handicap and if the BMW engines run
without problems, a 1-2 finish is on the cards.
9.5/10 - Speed 9.5/10
Juan Pablo Montoya is now just a single point behind Michael
Schumacher in the Drivers' Championship. He loves this track and was on Pole
here for the last 2 years so expect the same this year. He also has a high
chance of winning here.
Ralf Schumacher in 4th place in the Championship but still with
a small chance if the three drivers ahead of him struggle. He'll do well
regardless and help Williams and possibly his team-mate into maximising their
points. A podium finish is likely.
Ferrari: They are now 8 points behind Williams and have a very
tough task ahead of them as the 3 remaining races are all fast tracks with
warm temperatures expected which favour Williams and their Michelin tyres.
They'd be hoping that the tyre changes by Michelin would help Bridgestone
close the gap. Reliability holding, expect both their cars to finish in
the top 6 although podium finishes will be hard.
Reliability 9.5/10 - Speed 9.0/10
Michael Schumacher will be trying his best to ensure that
Montoya doesn't get the lead in the Championship but if the circumstances are
right for the Williams/Michelin package, he won't be able to do anything. A
podium is possible but will have to fight hard for it.
Rubens Barrichello won here last year after the Championship was
already decided. Don't expect a repeat this year. He'll try to help Michael
by taking points away from the others but I doubt that the
Ferrari/Bridgestone package can deliver. A top 6 finish is likely.
McLaren: They still have a chance to take the Constructors
provided though that both Williams and Ferrari struggle. That is unlikely.
McLaren have complained the most about the new Michelin tyres so they may
be affected most by it so don't expect them to challenge for the lead
Reliability 9.0/10 - Speed 9.0/10
Drivers: Kimi Raikkonen is only 2 points behind Michael
Schumacher in the Drivers' Championship and that is amazing given that he is
still driving last years' car. If he doesn't suffer from reliability issues,
he could finish on the podium and keep his chances alive.
David Coulthard re-signed with McLaren for next year
and that wasn't expected as he has not done well this year running 7th in the
Championship at this stage. The team must value him more for his technical
feedback than for his on track performance. A top 6 finish will be possible
Renault: They have managed to win a race in only their second
season since their return to Formula 1. That is an impressive achievement
given the tough competition but that was in Hungary. Monza will be tough
for them as they are behind the top teams in terms of engine power. Don't
expect them to be able to stay with the other top teams here.
Reliability 8.0/10 - Speed 9.0/10
Fernando Alonso won the Hungarian GP and in doing so becomes the
youngest driver to do so. He is a future champion. If his car holds, he'll
score points here.
Jarno Trulli finished 4th last year here in the
underpowered Renault but that was after both Williams and Kimi Raikkonen
retired. He could do well again at his home track. Again points are
BAR: Are tied with Jaguar on points but are still
classified in 5th. This track may suit the BAR and if they have good
Bridgestone rubber, they may be able to challenge for the best of the rest
positions here. Reliability though is always a question when it comes to
Reliability 7.0/10 - Speed 8.0/10
Drivers: Jenson Button had a poor race at Hungary and
will be eager to do better here. He has shown in the past that he has the
ability to grab whatever points that are leftover from the top teams. A top 10
finish is likely.
Jacques Villeneuve either struggles or his car fails him!. At
Hungary he appeared to be doing well but only managed 14 laps before retiring.
He should do well in Monza provided his car lasts!.
Jaguar: Moved into 6th and on equal points with BAR after a good
performance by Mark Webber in Hungary. The concern is the Cosworth engine
that suffered multiple failures in Hungary and given the stress on the
engines at Monza, they'll either risk engine failures or run them at lower
revs, both cases won't help them score points.
Reliability 7.5/10 - Speed 7.5/10
Drivers: Mark Webber drove well at Hungary and finished
in 6th place. Monza will be tough though and whilst Webber will be fast as
always, there is a question over reliability. Last year Irvine surprised
everyone with a podium finish for Jaguar so anything is possible!.
Justin Wilson carried out some testing at Monza last week so he is
more familiar with the track. It will be interesting to see how he fairs
against Webber here. Don't expect miracles though!.
Toyota: Drop back to 7th place in the Championship
but just a single point behind both BAR and Jaguar. This is a race that
they could do well in as the Toyota engine is rumoured to have lots of
power. In fact they could be the closest team to the top runners and if
they are reliable they may score a few points and pass both BAR and Jaguar.
Reliability 8.0/10 -
Drivers: Cristiano da Matta should do well on this track
as it isn't new to him and has done some testing last week. He could score a
point or two if any of the top teams struggle.
Olivier Panis will have a tough fight with his
team-mate here and expect da Matta to get the better of him. Still he may
score some points.
Jordan: Testing at Monza showed them at the back and close to
Minardi. That is where they'll be.
Reliability 7.5/10 - Speed 6.5/10
Giancarlo Fisichella moves to Sauber for next year. Not sure if
that is good though as Sauber are also struggling. He'll struggle with his car
Ralph Firman took a rest from testing at Monza as he recovers from his
crash in practice in Hungary. This will disadvantage him as he lacks track
time at Monza.
Sauber: They've signed Fisichella and are rumoured to sign Felipe
Massa for next year leaving both their drivers without a seat next year.
It appears that they are concentrating on next years' car as they don't
have much chance of catching Jordan this year although the Ferrari engines
may help here!.
Reliability 7.5/10 - Speed 7.0/10
Drivers: Heinz Harald Frentzen ran out of fuel at
Hungary blaming "unlucky circumstances". Don't they know which lap
they must pit to refuel ?. A top 10 finish is possible due to others dropping
Nick Heidfeld seems to be improving after knowing that his
seat is under threat for next season. Finishing 9th at Hungary was a good
result. Points will be difficult at Monza though.
Minardi: They are the only team not to score a point this
season and with 3 races to go, it looks like it will stay that way unless
"unusual circumstances" happen!.
Reliability 7.0/10 - Speed 6.0/10
Drivers: Jos Verstappen managed to get the car home at
the Hungaroring 3 laps down. Expect the same at Monza.
Nicolas Kiesa may be better than Alex Yoong and perhaps it is too
early to judge but there are other drivers out there that could do better than
him in Formula 1.
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