Formula 1 Japanese
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Here is a team by team review:
Ferrari: Will again be the team to beat at Suzuka
although the competition seems to be closing in. They won at Shanghai but
it was close.
Drivers: Michael Schumacher didn't race well at Shanghai and committed many mistakes. Perhaps he was taking risks as the Championship was already won or perhaps he wasn't as motivated. In any case don't count on him having a bad day at Suzuka. Beating Barrichello may tougher than it used to be!.
Rubens Barrichello is on a high and with 2 race wins in a row and having won here last year, he'll be the man to beat. If he keeps his cool he can make it 3 in a row.
BAR: Increased their lead over Renault to 9
points thanks to a strong performance by both their drivers. They need a
very good result here and they could clinch second. Of course this is
Honda's home race and they might have a 'Suzuka Spec' engine which could
help them as long as it doesn't blow!.
Drivers: Jenson Button has now clinched 3rd in the Championship. His aim would be to help BAR beat Renault. His motivation hasn't weakened despite his desire to move to Williams next year. Another podium finish is possible.
Takuma Sato was unlucky to have an engine failure during practice in Shanghai forcing him to the back of the grid. He did well moving back into 6th at the end. Takuma has always impressed at Suzuka and he could finish ahead of Button here.
Renault: Will find it hard to catch BAR although at this
track they could have the edge. The Suzuka track should suit the Renault
and if they get it right they could also challenge for podium places.
Drivers: Fernando Alonso did the best he could in Shanghai and finished 4th. Expect a better result from him here.
Jacques Villeneuve didn't have the debut expected but should have a better result here. Expect a points finish.
Williams: Continue to be caught by McLaren with
the gap now down to just 6 points. The team may be willing to put up a
fight but the drivers don't appear to be that motivated.
Drivers: Juan Pablo Montoya finished in 5th place at Shanghai which isn't too bad considering his start from 10th place. He likes the Suzuka track and should do well here. Points likely.
Ralf Schumacher had a decent return to Formula 1 after a long break while recovering from his injuries. He qualified 5th in Shanghai but a tangle with Coulthard forced him to pit when the pit crew were waiting for Montoya. He didn't want to wait so he retired. That shouldn't be how a driver behaves.
McLaren: Continue to improve and at Shanghai Kimi was as strong
as Rubens. If they can give Kimi a reliable car then a win is a
Drivers: Kimi Raikkonen was on the podium in the last 3 races he managed to finish. Just give him a reliable car.
David Coulthard continues to achieve his target of 6th or 7th. However he finished 9th at Shanghai after he clashed with Ralf. Expect a low points finish here.
Sauber: Another double points finish at Shanghai and that is a
great effort from a private team. The wind tunnel must be working.
Drivers: Giancarlo Fisichella finished 7th at Shanghai and deserved it. It will be difficult to repeat here but don't be surprised if he does.
Felipe Massa finished behind his team-mate at Shanghai. Another good performance from the young Brazilian who seems to be making good progress. Suzuka will be tough on him though.
Jaguar: Remain ahead of Toyota by just one point as neither of
them managed to score in Shanghai. It will be hard for Jaguar to keep 7th
place as their operation starts winding down while Toyota would want to do
something special at their home race.
Drivers: Mark Webber had a good race keeping Villeneuve behind him at Shanghai but that wasn't for points. Expect a very hard fight for points here too.
Christian Klien retired as a result of Michael Schumacher banging wheels with him in an attempt to overtake. Bad luck!. Suzuka will be a hard race for Christian.
Toyota: Will be under a lot of pressure to do well
at their home race especially that BAR Honda are expected to do well. They
need to score points to move ahead of Jaguar and that won't be an easy
Drivers: Jarno Trulli returns to racing after a 2 week absence. Toyota decided to race him here instead of Zonta. It will help Trulli get more comfortable in the car and if Trulli is motivated enough then he could help them score points!
Olivier Panis didn't have a good race in China. After qualifying 8th he only managed 14th following a very slow start. Things need to start working at Toyota. Points will be difficult.
Jordan: They did reasonably well at China and managed to keep
up with a number of teams ahead of them. They didn't score but did a good
job. Suzuka will be a hard one.
Drivers: Nick Heidfeld managed 13th at Shanghai and enjoyed it as he managed to finish ahead of Panis in the Toyota. He'll struggle at Suzuka.
Timo Glock did well to finish the race only 2 places behind Heidfeld. One wonders why Eddie Jordan kept him on the side for so long!
Minardi: Had their usual result at Shanghai
without any surprises. They'll
again make up the end of the field.
Drivers: Zsolt Baumgartner seems to be gaining confidence all the time. He still isn't matching Bruni in qualifying but over a race distance he is more consistent. Point will require a miracle though.
Gianmaria Bruni continues to have problems that prevent him from finishing. Let's hope Suzuka won't be his 4th retirement in a row.
Pole and see how your predictions stack up against the others.