1 Monaco Grand Prix
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A Renault-McLaren Affair!
expect two teams to be strong in Monaco. Renault because of their strong results so far this year and their strong results here last
year and McLaren because of the significant improvements the team has made since Bahrain.
The Monaco street
circuit is the slowest and shortest on the calendar but it is the one that requires 100% focus from the driver as the slightest
error could mean the end of your race.
The weather of course could play a major role at this event as it has in the past, particularly when in 1996 Olivier Panis driving a Ligier Mugen Honda won the Monaco Grand in the wet. A race that ended at the 2 hour limit as well.
8 teams conducted testing last week. Ferrari at Fiorano, Williams at Vallelunga and Renault, Toyota, McLaren, Red Bull, Sauber and BAR at Paul Ricard. All the teams concentrated on tyre development for the upcoming races as we enter the busiest period of the season with 8 races in 10 weeks (Monaco on the 22nd of May until the Hungarian on the 31st of July)
Here is a team by team review:
Their winning streak was ended by McLaren at Barcelona but they were still competitive and both of the their cars could have
finished on the podium had Fisichella not replaced his front wing. Fisichella also set the fastest lap of the race.
Drivers: Fernando Alonso had problems with blistered tyres early in the race in Barcelona but managed the situation well and recovered to finish second (with a bit of luck too). He was fighting with Trulli for the lead last year when he crashed out while lapping Ralf Schumacher. He wants to win this race.
Giancarlo Fisichella continues to have some bad luck with a front wing change at Barcelona which lost him an almost definite second place. At least he finished 5th which gives him a better chance in qualifying here. He'll be very close to Fernando on this track.
They've now proved their competitiveness. Trulli finishing on the podium and Ralf in 4th place at Barcelona is an excellent result
for the team. They will be strong at many circuits this year but this isn't one of them. Their power advantage and aerodynamic
efficiency won't help them here and they'll struggle.
Drivers: Jarno Trulli will do his best to repeat his win from last year but he'll have to settle for as many points as he can get and I don't expect him to finish any higher than 4th.
Ralf Schumacher was matching Jarno Trulli all weekend at Barcelona and just missed out during the first round of stops. He won't match him here as Trulli will do much better in qualifying.
McLaren: Move to within 3 points from Toyota in the
Constructors' Championship and they are clearly on a roll. The car is fast and seems to be reliable. They will fight with Renault
for the win here. Both their drivers have a real chance.
Drivers: Kimi Raikkonen scored his 3rd career win dominating the Spanish Grand Prix. He obviously wants to win Monaco but his team-mate and the Renault pair will try to prevent that!.
Juan Pablo Montoya returned to racing at Barcelona following a 2 race mandatory absence due to injury. He had the potential of a podium finish but a refuelling problem forced him to make an extra pit stop and he ended up in 7th place. He won Monaco in 2003 with Williams and if he wants to challenge for the title this year, he has to win here.
Take 4th in the Constructors' Championship from Ferrari but it is Ferrari who are really struggling rather than Williams who are
Drivers: Mark Webber put the Williams on the first row in Spain. But that was on low fuel as he made his first stop much earlier than the rest. Such strategies could work if the car has a good traction control system. The Williams doesn't!. 5th or lower for Webber here.
Nick Heidfeld had to start from the back of the grid due to 2 engine changes and ended up 10th just behind Barrichello who also started from the back. It will be an interesting fight with Webber here however I suspect Webber to have the upper hand. A point or two possible.
Ferrari: They drop back to 5th after the Spanish Grand Prix where they didn't score any points, a race
which many thought they'd go home with 18 points.
Drivers: Michael Schumacher may have finished in the points at Barcelona had he not retired with tyre problems but he would have most likely finished behind Alonso which isn't a good result and isn't what was expected of Michael and Ferrari in their bid to launch a serious attempt at both Championships. Points possible in Monaco, podium unlikely.
Rubens Barrichello started from the back and finished
in 9th place just ahead of Heidfeld who also started at the back. One can conclude then that Ferrari's and Williams' pace is similar.
6th in the Championship and just 4 points behind Ferrari after 5 races. No one would have predicted this. They did benefit at the
start of the season and their point scoring is starting to dry out but at Monaco they have their best chance to score even more
Drivers: David Coulthard managed yet again to somehow score a point in Spain. He won the Monaco Grand Prix twice (in 2000 and 2002) so expect a strong result from him. Points are likely but don't expect a win or a podium.
Vitantonio Liuzzi seems to be
struggling in race conditions. He spun out at Barcelona and it is likely that he'll struggle here as well. If he does finish it will
be outside the points.
Sauber: Had a poor race at
Barcelona however they expected to struggle there. This race will be interesting for them though and they could surprise a few with
Drivers: Jacques Villeneuve had a poor race at Barcelona and was out-qualified and out-raced by his team-mate. The pressure will be on again to perform and Monaco isn't a track that he does well on so expect another difficult weekend for the French Canadian.
Felipe Massa also struggled at Barcelona and stopped with 3 laps to go. He wasn't in points contention anyway. He could do well here and fight for a point or two.
Jordan: Continue to have excellent reliability with just one failure in the last 5 races. They
need to get quicker. The Toyota power won't help much at Monaco.
Drivers: Narain Karthikeyan will have an interesting race and may have a chance to show more of his talent on this kind of track. The gap between himself and Monteiro will be big.
Tiago Monteiro will struggle on this track and will either be too slow or crash out.
Drivers: Jenson Button and Takuma Sato
Minardi: The new car is
completely unreliable with no race finishes so far. They'll be working on trying to improve the reliability. Monaco is one of the
few races that Minardi could have a chance to score points but it is very unlikely this year.
Drivers: Christijan Albers will have a challenging time around the streets of Monaco. With an unreliable car don't expect him to finish.
Patrick Freisacher will be in a similar situation to his team-mate.
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