2006 Formula 1 European Grand Prix
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Renault still the team to beat!
The Nurburgring track (layout)
is a high downforce track offering a mixture of corners from the very slow hairpins to the very fast S bend. The track offers two
overtaking opportunities, the first into the first corner and one into the last chicane.
Last weeks all the teams except Ferrari, Toyota and Super Aguri conducted tests at Silverstone. Renault topped the timesheets and
by a margin. Both Alonso and Fisichella set times that were nearly 1.5 seconds quicker than the pole time set at Silverstone last
Here is a team by team preview: (Click here for selected team and driver race preview quotes)
Renault: Should have won at Imola but a brilliant strategy by Ferrari forced them to settle for second. They have the best
car out there. Fisichella's motivation is a question though.
Drivers: Fernando Alonso tried hard to get past Michael but couldn't. However he demonstrated how quick the package is. He
should win at the Nurburgring.
Giancarlo Fisichella is still getting the support of the team but starting from 11th and only managing to move up 3
positions at the end of the race is disappointing. He may think his position is safe at Renault as Alonso is leaving next year but
Flavio has taken unconventional decisions in the past. Podium if he has a good weekend.
McLaren: Remain in second place in the Championship 18 points behind Renault. They didn't look fast at Imola. Lets hope
that was a one off and they will be strong at the Nurburgring, otherwise Renault will run away with it!.
Drivers: Kimi Raikkonen had an average race at Imola after starting 8th he only managed 5th. This isn't what you'd expect
from Raikkonen. He should bounce back at the Nurburgring and fight for the win.
Juan Pablo Montoya had a reasonable race finishing on the podium but was too far behind Michael and Alonso. Lets hope he
keeps the momentum and does well at the Nurbugring. Podium possible.
Ferrari: Won at Imola after executing a brilliant strategy that made Renault alter their strategy to the wrong one. But
this only works when overtaking is nearly impossible. They need to improve their race pace if they want to win more races.
Drivers: Michael Schumacher won his first race since the US Indy 6 car race last year. He did well to keep Alonso behind
and executed a brilliant strategy. But unless the Ferrari package has improved dramatically over the last two weeks, don't expect a
repeat at the Nurburgring but a podium is a possibility.
Felipe Massa started fourth and finished fourth. He could have finished on the podium and one has to question the tactics
of dropping his pace when Alonso was behind. Was it intentional or not ?
Honda: They need to improve their race pace. It is that simple but to do it is very hard!.
Drivers: Jenson Button continues to be frustrated by his team. He can't be blamed for the pit stop 'incident' but one
wonders why he drove so far down the pit lane before stopping.
Rubens Barrichello needs to improve to start pushing Button. He started 3rd yet finished outside the points. Sure he had a
long first stop but it wasn't that long!.
BMW Sauber: They remain in 5th place despite not scoring any points. Both their cars made it to the finish but they were
down the order. Could do a bit better at one of their home races.
Drivers: Nick Heidfeld had a bad weekend at Imola and was out-qualified and out-raced by his team-mate and he wouldn't be
happy about that. Will fight his team-mate hard at his home race but points will be tough to get.
Jacques Villeneuve proved in Imola that he is a match for Heidfeld and that is good to see as the two can push each other.
Scoring points at the Nurburgring is only possible if a few cars in front run into problems.
Williams: They had a good result with Webber finishing 6th at Imola. They've taken 6th in the Championship and are just
two points behind BMW Sauber. They still have a lot of work to do to compete with the top teams.
Drivers: Mark Webber did well finishing 6th after starting from 10th with both Button and Fisichella behind. It will be
hard to repeat at the Nurburgring but points can still be scored.
Nico Rosberg had a poor race at Imola and that was suprising. He did very well at tracks he didn't know but performed
poorly on a track he was familiar with. Lets hope it is a one-off and he impresses at the Nurburgring. He would have to fight hard
for points though.
Toyota: Dropped to 7th in the Championship after a poor result at Imola with Ralf finishing 9th while Trulli retired. The
effect of Gascoyne leaving will continue to have an impact on the team. At their test last week they were matching the times from
Ferrari but testing is one thing, racing is a whole different game!
Drivers: Ralf Schumacher started from 6th on the grid but was on a three stop strategy and finished the race in 9th place.
Don't expect much improvement at the Nurburgring.
Jarno Trulli continues his bad luck after retiring with a steering problem at Imola. Lets hope his luck gets better when
Toyota give him a better car!. Points will be very difficult at the Nurburgring.
Red Bull: They are having a poor start to their season compared to last year. There would be a lot of pressure on Adrian
Newey to turn things around but don't expect any significant improvements before Monaco. They also need to work on reliability.
Drivers: David Coulthard retired at Imola with a drive shaft failure. Will need a strong package to start challenging for
points and that is unlikely to happen in time for the Nurburgring.
Christian Klien managed to avoid any incidents at Imola but retired with a hydraulics problem. Points unlikely.
Toro Rosso: Finished both their cars at Imola and they were in front of MF1 Racing. They will have a tough fight with MF1
at the Nurburgring.
Drivers: Scott Speed finished behind his team-mate at Imola. It will be an interesting fight between those two this
season. Finishing as close as they can to the midfield runners would be the best he could hope for. Points nearly impossible.
Vitantonio Liuzzi had another impressive qualifying at Imola making it into the second round. He finished the race a lap
down but ahead of his team-mate. Expect a similar result at the Nurbirgring.
MF1 Racing: They need to improve their package otherwise Super Aguri may even start racing them!. In qualifying at Imola
they were closer to Super Aguri than Toro Rosso!
Drivers: Christijan Albers didn't last long when Ide clipped him and sent him rolling spectacularly over the gravel.
Thanks to the safety of the Formula 1 cars, Albers walked away unharmed. He'll be hoping for a better race at the Nurburgring and
fighting with the Toro Rosso drivers.
Tiago Monteiro finished the race at Imola in last place and 2 laps down. As we've said before, he looks after his car but
doesn't push it! Expect more of the same here.
Super Aguri: Both their cars retired at Imola. Their car is slow and until their new car is ready they will remain at the
very back of the grid.
Drivers: Takuma Sato retired from the race at Imola with a mechanical problem. He had a reasonable race until then. He'll
try his best at the Nurburgring but he isn't likely to challenge any driver from any other team.
Yuji Ide made a mistake causing Albers to flip. He is gaining experience but that kind of behaviour shouldn't be
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