1 Spanish Grand Prix
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It will be close!
I don't expect to see a team to dominate in Spain unless Bridgestone produce a superior tyre to Michelin just as they did at Imola but I doubt that.
The Barcelona track is where the teams test the most and the logical conclusion is that Michelin will have a
better tyre there simply because they've gathered more data than Bridgestone. Ferrari and Michael however are traditionally strong
at this track having grabbed pole and won the race since 2001.
The Barcelona circuit has a mixture of all types of corners
and has two long straights. Cars run in high downforce configuration as the two long straights are preceded by high speed corners.
This also means that overtaking will be very difficult.
The weather at this stage is forecast to be sunny and in the low 20's making track temperatures move into the mid to high 30's. The wind at this track can also cause problems to the aerodynamics of the cars.
All the teams conducted testing last week. Ferrari, BAR and Minardi were at Mugello. Renault, McLaren, Red Bull and Toyota were at Jerez, Sauber were at Fiorano and Williams and Jordan at Silverstone. BAR were fastest at Mugello while Pedro de la Rosa broke the unofficial lap record at Jerez.
Here is a team by team review:
4 wins out of 4 starts. The start of the season has been a dream for the Renault F1 team and they are now under more pressure to
keep it up. They were fortunate at Imola with Raikkonen's retirement and Michael's mistake in qualifying. However they admit they
didn't expect to win at Imola but Barcelona should suit their car well. Both drivers will be running the B-Spec Renault engine and
the drivers have been impressed with the improvements.
Drivers: Fernando Alonso described his win at Imola as his 'best to date'. He drove like a champion and despite the persistent pressure from Michael, he managed the situation superbly and won the race. He went very fast here in pre-season testing and he'll have an extra boost from the massive crowds at his home race. Could he become the first ever Spaniard to win the Spanish Grand Prix ? You can't discount him.
Giancarlo Fisichella is clearly unfortunate to have 2 failures in a row while his team-mate goes on to win however Fisichella is struggling in qualifying and doesn't appear able to match his team-mate or even come close. A top 6 is likely if his car lasts. A podium will be hard though.
Didn't do at Imola as well as the previous two races. Their strategy of holding up the cars behind worked to a degree and Trulli
managed 7th while Ralf Schumacher finished 8th but was penalised for a pit-lane incident. Expect them to be stronger here.
Drivers: Jarno Trulli drove a defensive race at Imola and somehow managed to score 2 points. He won't struggle as much at this track but a podium finish is unlikely.
Ralf Schumacher continues to be out-qualified and out-driven by his team-mate and he needs to change that if he is to get attention from his team. It is hard to beat Trulli in qualifying though. A point or 2 a possibility.
McLaren: They are
slowly catching Toyota in the Championship. Ironically it is the test drivers who are scoring points for the team!. Kimi Raikkonen
struggles with reliability while Juan Pablo Montoya is sidelined. McLaren were impressive in testing last week at Jerez so expect
them to be strong here. Reliability remains a concern though.
Drivers: Kimi Raikkonen was poised for a win at Imola until his retirement. He will be very strong at Barcelona and could score his 3rd career win.
Second driver (Juan Pablo Montoya/Alex Wurz/Pedro de la Rosa) - McLaren have yet to announce who will be driving the second car. Montoya is expected to be fully recovered however he will be doing simulator tests before the team makes the decision. He cannot afford to be out of action for so long. If he isn't fit to race, it will be a hard decision to make between Wurz and de la Rosa having both driven well. This time though it is more logical for Wurz to race as he benefits from his 4th place finish for his qualifying run whereas de la Rosa would be disadvantaged going out first.
Ferrari: They move into 4th after the second place finish by Michael Schumacher at Imola. They could
have dominated at Imola had they qualified better. They will be very strong at Barcelona but don't expect them to be dominant.
Drivers: Michael Schumacher nearly won the San Marino Grand Prix despite starting from 13th on the grid. He made up those positions thanks to a well executed strategy and a superior car/tyre package. Having won here for the last 4 years, he'll be very strong and you cannot discount a 5th win in a row!
Rubens Barrichello suffered an electrical failure at Imola early in the race. Very surprising given the excellent reliability record for Ferrari. It would have been interesting to see where he'll end up had he continued given that he was in front of Michael before he retired. He should do better at Barcelona but won't challenge for the win. Top 6 likely though.
They struggled at Imola and Nick Heidfeld just managed to score a point after Ralf Schumacher was penalised. Testing at Barcelona
didn't show them very strong however Williams don't usually go breaking records in testing.
Drivers: Mark Webber had an impressive qualifying at Imola but went backwards from then. He was struggling with his car and towards the end of the race his engine was revved down as it was the second race for that engine. Expect another strong qualifying performance and possibly a finish in the top 6.
Nick Heidfeld seems to be slightly behind his team-mate but is able to capitalise on his team-mate's problems and finish ahead like he did in Sepang and Imola. Expect the same here. A point or two likely.
Drop to 6th place and are starting to look more like what was expected of them. It is interesting even they are now complaining
they are too slow. The upgrade from Cosworth isn't ready yet so don't expect much improvements.
Drivers: David Coulthard failed to score points for the first time this season at Imola. Expect that to continue at Barcelona unless we have too many cars ahead dropping out.
Vitantonio Liuzzi struggled for most of the weekend at Imola but got close to Coulthard in qualifying and finished ahead of his team-mate in the race. He'll need to continue the good form if he is to keep the race seat after Monaco. Like Coulthard, it will be very hard to score points.
BAR: Move into 7th in the Championship
following the podium finish by Button and the 5th place finish by Sato. Button's finish is under appeal by the FIA and could lose it
after the car was found to be underweight after the race.
Drivers: Jenson Button finished 3rd at Imola and whether the FIA appeal is successful or not, he will be strong here and could snatch his first ever win.
Takuma Sato finished 5th at Imola. He could go even better here.
Sauber: They are improving their car and have scored
points for the second race in a row. This will be a difficult track for them though as they were very slow in pre-season testing.
The aerodynamic changes have improved the car but don't expect the car to challenge for points.
Drivers: Jacques Villeneuve scored his first points for the team after a very poor start to the season. His performance at Imola was impressive and managed to make up places via the pits and on the track. The pressure on him will be less now but needs to keep up the momentum. Points will be very difficult unless many retire at the front.
Felipe Massa put in a superb qualifying performance at Imola but his engine had to be changed as an after affect from Bahrain. Villeneuve will be closer to him but expect Massa to be ahead in qualifying and the race still outside the points!.
to finish both cars at Imola. The car is reliable but needs to be quicker.
Drivers: Narain Karthikeyan drove well at Imola and wasn't too far behind Coulthard in the Red Bull. He continues to impress but scoring points in the Jordan requires unusual circumstances!.
Tiago Monteiro finished 2 laps down at Imola but that was due to suffering a puncture towards the end of the race. Still he continues to be a lot slower than his team-mate.
Minardi: The new car
made its debut at Imola and early indications is that it is unreliable with both drivers retiring early in the race. They conducted
a 2 day session at Mugello and that should help them but they need to sort out the reliability before looking at getting the most
out of the car.
Drivers: Christijan Albers retired after 20 laps with a gearbox related problem at Imola. Expect more reliability problems in Spain.
Patrick Freisacher will be in a similar situation to his team-mate.
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