News On F1

Formula 1 Store
F1 Tours, Tickets, Gear
F1 Books
& Biographies

Also Attractions & Concerts

2004 � It�s going to be crowded at the top!

F1 Merchandise
blank.gif (809 bytes)
blank.gif (809 bytes)
Main Page
Formula 1 News
2015 F1 Schedule
2015 F1 Line-up
2014 F1 Results
F1 Teams
F1 Drivers
NewsOnF1 Mobile
10 'n' Pole
Register - Submit
F1 Regulations
The Forums
Live F1 Coverage
Time & Weather
Motorsport Shop
Motorsport Calendar

F1 Merchandise UK
F1 Merchandise USA

F1 Tours
F1 Tickets
F1 Diecast
F1 Videos
F1 Games
F1 Trivia
NewsOnF1 on Twitter
MotoGP Tickets
Past Formula 1 Seasons
2013 F1 Results
2012 F1 Results
2011 F1 Results
2010 F1 Results
2009 F1 Results
2008 F1 Results
2007 F1 Results
2006 F1 Results
2005 F1 Results
2004 F1 Results
2003 F1 Results

2002 F1 Results

2001 F1 Results

2000 F1 Results

1999 F1 Results

1998 F1 Results

1997 F1 Results
2010 World Cup
Contact Us
Your Say
Diagnosis & Prognosis
By the Heretic
Controversy Corner
The Real Race
By the Quali-flyer
F1 Testing
F1 Team Reports
8 'n' Pole
2006 World Cup

Download the
powered by Alexa

Other Issues
Reader's Comments

And so another season is set to start. We have a whole new (?) practice/qualifying arrangement and a whole new set of daft (with a couple of exceptions) rules to make things more interesting. The new-and-improved Qualifying arrangements are really no different to last year. The timing is different � first and second sessions back to back on Saturday � but the real racing is still gone. Qualifying on race fuel loads makes it a strategic extension of the race, as it was in 2003, and one lap that counts qualifying will still enhance the spectacle while detracting from the sport.

One race engines are a precursor to 100,000 kilometre warranties and will be of little value in reducing costs, with more than the amount saved on construction of engines having been diverted to R&D to make the engines lighter and more powerful while still lasting the whole weekend. I wonder whether Paul Stoddard has recognised the opportunities here � He can plan on running multiple engines every round without fear of being compromised. Revised requirements for rear aerofoils seems a real winner, except that the Renault at least is already more aerodynamically efficient (generating more downforce) than last years car.

At least the changes will slow the cars down over last year�s speeds. Errr � given the way track records are falling like autumn leaves in pre-season testing maybe that�s not working either.

One thing is very obvious from pre-season testing; this year�s cars will be fast, very, very fast. Looking at the top of the ladder, the Michelin car�s (Williams, McLaren and Renault) all seem to be significant steps forward on last year. The Ferrari too should be quicker. You cannot read too much into pre-season testing times, they are testing various elements and a car that blitzes the field on a particular day may well be running an overstressed engine trying to find limits that they wouldn�t approach on race weekends, while the others are doing comparative component tests. We shall have to wait for Melbourne to see who has made the biggest advances and who (apart from Jaguar) is in trouble.

Ferrari have stayed with Bridgestone for 2004 and only time will tell if that was a good move. We saw last year that the red cars can still win races and championships with clearly inferior rubber; I am not ready to discount a repeat performance this year.

One very worrying element of the tyre war though is that Bridgestone now have only one manufacturer-backed team to draw data from. Michelin will have trouble keeping up with their data streams from every other cashed up team. This has to favour the pneumatic Frenchman.

The only high points in an otherwise dumb set of rule changes are the removal of Launch Control and driver controlled gear changes. Now, if only they could get rid of TC and bring back slicks we could see some racing, dare I suggest that we might even have occasional overtaking back as a feature of the sport. Nah, won�t happen.

Even the normally modest DC seems to think this will be his year. That surprises me, He has always been so willing to acknowledge that he is the number 2 driver and that he won�t get the number of points that his Finnish partner will. But this year will finally be his crack at the Championship! He said so. This year will also be Ralf�s and Rubino�s! They said so too.

Throw in their various team-mates who could get lucky and take a point or two off these illustrious hero�s and the top step will get pretty crowded. It will be an interesting year if these 3 can be believed, suddenly you will have Schumacher (the elder), Montoya, Raikkonen and Alonso squabbling over the minor points while the new Big Three split up the podium�s between them. I believe them; after all they said it at press conferences so it must be true. I suppose it was time for a change anyway.

One interesting aside. Lets assume one or all of these legends-in-their-own-minds do perform, why shouldn�t the appropriate team owner get very upset at their failures over the last years? After all, none of them are even close to being rookies. Barrichello at least has the excuse that he is contractually number 2 � the others have just relied on having less talent.

It�s way too early to call this season because we haven�t seen the cars running head to head in race configuration but I�ll stick my neck out anyway.

Renault will seriously challenge the pecking order this year and mix it up with two of the big three. One of those three will get their act together better than the others and take an early lead in the championship that will get pared back by mid-season. My heart says it will be Kimi (oop�s, sorry, it�s David�s year isn�t it) in the McLaren but I�m not writing off JPM just yet.

Eddie Jordan will find some drivers but might as well not bother, they will be a long way from the second tier runners, Sauber will disappoint again and Jaguar will look back on 2003 as a high point (until at least mid-season). Toyota and BAR will get the lions share of what crumbs the top teams leave and Minardi will have 2 cars going round the tracks again.

Weber will neither harm his reputation nor improve on last year�s performance. De Matta will have a good year, as will Button. Sato and Massa will prove the wisdom of them not getting seats in 2003. Hopefully we will see another bright light appearing from the rookie brigade, 2003 was a tad dim.

And, despite David�s et al claims I see another tight championship with the usual suspects from 2003 vying for the gong.

Sir Frank will be more interested in points than denying JPM access to information or car improvements so he should have a reasonably even playing field with Schumacher junior. He will however have to maintain his enthusiasm in an environment that will become increasingly strained. Kimi will perform well if the car is up to it and Michael will do better than 2003, hopefully getting back to the machine that didn�t have the ordinary performances he gave us on occasions in 2003. He�ll need to if he is to overcome the shortcoming of Japanese rubber. And the world champion for 2004? I don�t know, but I�m not writing off a repeat of last year, just yet.

The Quali-flyer

Other Issues
The Real Race Archive

Want to comment on this article ? We'd love to hear from you. Fill in the form below.

(only your first name and last initial will appear under your comments)


Email address: (a valid email address is required)




Reader's comments:

Join 8 'n' Pole and see how your predictions stack up against the others. Register NOW! 


Back To Top

The 2004 Formula 1 

Formula 1 Technical 
Analysis: 2002

F1 2003 World 
Championship Yearbook

Michael Schumacher
Driving Force

Michael Schumacher
The Greatest of All

Juan Pablo Montoya New

Formula One 2000 World Championship DVD

Autocourse 2003-2004 New

Autocourse 2002-2003

Race Car Chassis: 
Design and Construction

Aerodynamics for Racing and Performance Cars

Inner Speed Secrets: 
Race Driving Skills, Techniques, and Strategies

Going Faster: Mastering 
the Art of Race Driving

more Auto Magazine

more Formula 1 Titles

more Race Driving Titles

more Race Car Design Titles

Selected Merchandise

1:18 Scale Ferrari F2003GA - Michael Schumacher
Michael Schumacher
Ferrari F2003

1:18 Scale Mclaren MP4/17D - K. Raikkonen
K Raikkonen
MP4-17D McLaren

Juan Pablo Montoya 2003 Williams BMW
Juan Pablo Montoya
FW25 Williams BMW

1:18 Scale Ferrari F2003-GA - R. Barrichello
Rubens Barrichello
Ferrari F2003-GA

Ralf Schumacher 2002 Williams BMW
Ralf Schumacher
Williams BMW

Fernando Alonso 2003 Renault - R23
Fernando Alonso
R23 Renault

David Coulthard McLaren Mercedes - MP4/18 Test Car
D Coulthard
MP4-18 McLaren Test Car

Jarno Trulli 2003 Renault
Jarno Trulli