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2006 Formula 1 San Marino Grand Prix
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Reports & Results from the San Marino GP

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Track Layout (from the FIA)

Can Renault be caught ?

The first 3 races of 2006 saw the Renault team take 3 wins. Only the Bahrain win was fought hard for, the others looked fairly straightforward. So with the Formula 1 European season getting underway in a few days time, can any team catch Renault ?

In San Marino it will be possible for another team to challenge for the win as the track is tight and twisty making overtaking very difficult. For the following races however, it will be hard for the other teams to challenge Renault as they seem to have a car that is suited to almost all types of tracks.

Fernando Alonso wins in Australia

The issue of engines could (and possibly would) affect the outcome of the race in San Marino. Only a handful of drivers will have to race at Imola with the same engines used in Australia and that includes both Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen while their direct rivals will have fresh engines and that includes Jenson Button, Michael Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya, all of whom had retired in Australia and can start the San Marino weekend with a fresh engine. Fisichella will also have a new engine as his race in Australia was the second on the same engine.

The Imola track (layout) has medium to high speed corners, a couple of chicanes and is heavy on the brakes. Cars need good balance to ride the curbs without compromising stability.
Overtaking is very difficult and we remember last year when Michael Schumacher with a faster car couldn't get past Fernando Alonso for over 12 laps.

The weather will be another factor at this track. Temperatures are expected to be in the teens all weekend. That is much cooler than the temperatures experienced in the first 3 races and that will certainly have an effect on the tyre performance. We saw in Melbourne how the teams struggled with getting the heat into the tyres, that will be expected again at Imola. 

All the teams conducted testing during the last 2 weeks. Last week there was a mega test in Barcelona where the Renault cars were either the fastest or very close. On the final day at Barcelona, Renault test driver Heikki Kovalainen set the fastest time at the track for a V8 powered car.
Honda, Ferrari and McLaren all looked competitive but we'll only be able to tell at Imola if any of them have closed in on Renault!.

Here is a team by team preview: (Click here for selected team and driver race preview quotes)

Renault: 3 wins out of 3 starts. Renault are clearly the team to beat. They seem to have the car that suits any track and that gives them a huge advantage. It will be hard to bet against them in San Marino. 
Reliability 9.0/10 - Speed 9.5/10

Drivers: Fernando Alonso had a near perfect start to the season with 2 wins and a 2nd. What is more worrying for his rivals is that he has double the points of any other driver.
Alonso will be using the same engine he ran in Australia and that could force him into a conservative strategy. Regardless, a podium is likely.

Giancarlo Fisichella has to show that he can recover from difficult situations. In Melbourne he had to start from the pitlane and managed to finish 5th but that was more due to the retirements from the race.
He will benefit from a new spec engine so it will be interesting to see how he compares with his team-mate. If he can get pole he could win, otherwise a finish in the points.

McLaren: Moved into second place after Raikkonen finished second in Australia. They remain 19 points behind Renault though and will need to get both drivers in the points to be able to remain close and hope for Renault to run into a few problems.
Reliability 9.0/10 - Speed 9.0/10

Drivers: Kimi Raikkonen finished second in Australia but he was rather lucky with the safety car allowing him to change a damaged front wing without losing much time.
Raikkonen will be using the same engine used in Australia which may force him into a conservative strategy. Podium likely.

Juan Pablo Montoya made a number of mistakes in Melbourne and ended up triggering the engine shutdown mechanism as a result of having a bumpy off!. He needs to be consistent if he is to challenge his team-mate and ensure a competitive drive next year.
He will have a new engine for San Marino and that could help. Points likely.

Ferrari: Left Melbourne with no points and two heavily damaged cars. Michael showed good pace before crashing but the team isn't able to show consistent strong race pace.
They'll have new engines for San Marino and racing at home should give them a boost.
Reliability 9.5/10 - Speed 9.0/10

Drivers: Michael Schumacher retired from the Australian Grand Prix after going wide and crashing out. He is under a lot of pressure to perform and he needs to be careful not to push it over the limit.
Last year he finished a frustrated second in San Marino and would love to do one better. That is possible but points are more likely.

Felipe Massa was unlucky in Australia after retiring through no fault of his own. He should have a better race in San Marino. Points likely. 

Honda: Started the race in Melbourne on Pole but went downhill from there. They still need to improve their race pace if they are to win their first race.
Reliability 8.5/10 - Speed 9.0/10

Drivers: Jenson Button would have been very disappointed after Melbourne. After starting from Pole he slowly dropped back to fifth then had an engine failure meters from the end.
At least he starts with a fresh engine for San Marino. Podium possible, points likely.

Rubens Barrichello finished in the points thanks to the problems encountered by the others!. He needs to start getting close to Button otherwise he'll be out of F1 very soon!.
Points possible.

BMW Sauber: They are in 5th place in the championship and that is a very good start for the new-old team. They are having some engine problems and both drivers will be running engines for the second race so points could be difficult.
Reliability 8.5/10 - Speed 8.5/10

Drivers: Nick Heidfeld managed 4th in Melbourne which is a very good result. It will be very hard to repeat that in San Marino. If the engine lasts, he'll be happy with a few points.

Jacques Villeneuve has the same number of points as his team-mate and that is helping the team's total points. He is showing consistency and is proving he still has it in him.
Like his team-mate, if his engine lasts, a few points may be possible.

Toyota: Managed a podium finish in Melbourne and that wasn't expected following their form in the first two races. They did benefit from the safety car and the many retirements so it remains to be seen if they have really improved.
The sudden departure of Mike Gascoyne will have a negative effect on the team at least in the short term.
Reliability 9.0/10 - Speed 8.5/10

Drivers: Ralf Schumacher finished on the podium in Melbourne. That was a very good result but don't expect another podium in San Marino.

Jarno Trulli was unlucky all weekend in Melbourne and will be hoping for a better weekend at Imola. He badly needs it but points will be difficult.

Williams: They had another disappointing race with Rosberg taken out on the first lap and Webber retiring with a gearbox failure. They would be hoping for a better weekend at Imola
Reliability 7.5/10 - Speed 9.0/10

Drivers: Mark Webber led the Australian Grand Prix for 2 laps before his first pit stop only to retire moments after that. He needs a reliable car if he is to score points at Imola.

Nico Rosberg was taken out of the race in Melbourne when Massa's car hit his. He will do better at Imola as the track is familiar to him. Points possible if the car is reliable.

Red Bull: Scored a point after proving Speed overtook under yellow. It would have been very embarrassing from them to have Toro Rosso beat them in Melbourne.
They need to have a talk to Klien who seems to have caused a few retirements in the last two races.
Reliability 7.5/10 - Speed 8.5/10

Drivers: David Coulthard managed to score a point after Scott Speed was penalised. Neither him nor the team are having a good start to the season. They'd be hoping things would improve but don't expect points in the next few races unless there are a lot of retirements.

Christian Klien needs to be more careful with his starts after getting involved in a first lap incident with Massa and Rosberg. This is the 2nd time in as many races for Klien to be part of incidents at the start. Even if he has a clean first lap, don't expect points in Imola.

Toro Rosso: Were (almost) the first of the Red Bull owned teams to score points. Despite Speed's penalty which robbed them of eighth place, they were impressive. Given the strength of the teams ahead though, there will only be one or two more opportunities like Melbourne this season.
Reliability 8.0/10 - Speed 7.5/10

Drivers: Scott Speed had a good race in Melbourne and almost scored a point had it not been for overtaking under yellow. Given that he is a rookie one can forgive him for doing that but one can't forgive him for his behaviour during the meeting with the stewards. 

Vitantonio Liuzzi crashed out in Melbourne but he was impressive in qualifying making the second round and splitting the 2 Red Bull Racing cars. He could do well at his home race but points will be nearly impossible.

MF1 Racing: They must be thankful to the Super Aguri team. With the Toyota engine, they should do better than this!
Reliability 7.5/10 - Speed 7.0/10

Drivers: Christian Albers managed to finish in Melbourne a lap down. Just about what was expected and what to expect for Imola.

Tiago Monteiro had his first retirement early this season. It will probably be one of only a few as Monteiro looks after his car but doesn't go fast!.

Super Aguri: Were a long way behind in Melbourne and being mobile chicanes doesn't really help. Expect the same until they get their new chassis ready.
Reliability 7.0/10 - Speed 6.5/10

Drivers: Takuma Sato finished 2 laps down in Melbourne. You can tell he is trying but he doesn't have the car. Expect the same at Imola.

Yuji Ide is a lot slower than his team-mate. The team should look at getting a good driver to help move the team forward!. 

Bridgestone News - Michelin News

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