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Can the Ferrari still win the championship?  

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Reader's Comments

The car can, Michael can (an ordinary � for him anyway � performance at Silverstone notwithstanding) but I�m not sure that Bridgestone can. It�s really down to Rubens and Ralf. Rubens has to overcome the Bridgestone � Hot Track problem. Two more drives like England (even without wins) and I think Ferrari will get there, but that�s a big ask. Rubens drove the race of his career at Silverstone, now can he repeat it? Ralf has to prove that he can match the big boys when the pressure is on. Neither Michael nor Juan Pablo can deliver the Constructor�s Championship without the support of the second car.

Michael may not win more races this year, although I suspect he may, but I see him as obvious odds on favourite to keep the drivers championship yet again. With the current (dumb) scoring system favouring the incumbent and with Kimi taking some points from the Williams duo it is unlikely that he will fail to take his 6th gong. Even if one of the Williams (lets use JPM) wins 3 of the next 5 races and Michael gets 20 points from two 3rds and a 2nd (with both drawing equal minor placing�s or DNF�s in the other rounds), who wins? Under the scoring system designed to nobble him Michael is now sitting pretty with anyone else having an uphill battle to displace him from his position at the top of the tree.

Kimi is still very competitive in what is now an aging car but I can�t see him winning the championship. He�ll be in the top three and sign DC�s death warrant in doing so but he won�t catch Michael and may even be pipped by either, or both, of the Williams drivers.

JPM must offer the best chance of taking the fight to Ferrari but 7 points to Kimi with Michael a further 7 beyond that makes that a very hard task. He has to finish an average of more than 2 points per race up on Michael and achieve that in the face of spoiling action not only by Ralf but Kimi, Rubens and the two Renault drivers.

My prediction? Michael for a record breaking 6th Drivers and toss a coin for the other. Ferrari just pipped by Williams for the constructors would have a quaint ring to it but I believe Rubens will deliver the support points and the red cars will do it again despite, not because of, the Bridgestone tyres.

The musical chairs at Jaguar may give Mark Webber the first real reference partner in his F1 career. Justin Wilson will not challenge Mark�s role in the team this year but if he does enough to keep the seat in 2004 then from Melbourne onwards we will be able to measure Mark against a peer. Alex couldn�t fail to make him look good and Pizzonia was at best ordinary. Webber is a very good driver but without peer pressure we won�t ever know just how good. Hopefully the Minardi engine next year will reflect some goodwill from the driver change.

The TWG (Technical Working Group) are �investigating downsized engines to reduce power�. In principle I am in favour of this, 1,000 BHP is just around the corner with evolutionary development and with standardised braking systems and the proposed aerodynamic restrictions that will be too much. How they will achieve that is another matter. The manufacturers are targeting V10�s in their road cars to leverage off the F1 hype so they will resist a move back to V8�s. The cost of developing a small V10 from scratch would be enormous and the technical hurdles immense.

The real losers from a downsizing of engine capacity though would be the teams using customer engines. Sauber won�t have a �last years Ferrari engine� in year one. Cosworth will have to provide Jaguar and Minardi with different engines to avoid embarrassment to Ford, and Mercedes (assuming they supply customer engines to Jordan) won�t want the McLaren overshadowed by an also-ran team. I cannot accept that these customer engines will be as close to the front-runners as the current �old� engines, they certainly won�t be as reliable.

The Quali-flyer
The Real Race Archive

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Reader's comments:

The Ferrari is still a fantastic car (best on the grid) and Michael is still a fantastic driver (the greatest ever) but the Bridgestones are a distant second to the Michelin man's rubber. The test ban has hurt Ferrari and Mclaren the most I'd say but for different reasons. BMW Williams came together just before the ban and have really come on in spades. If Bridgestone can fix the problems real soon we'll see a ding dong battle to the end. 
Can you remember all the noise I've been making about a certain Columbian for a couple of seasons, well we'll see now won't we. Cheers big fella - Cooky - Australia

Cooky, you must have read an advance copy of todays posting! Couldn't agree more.

Bridgestone broke Ferrari's dominance and they need to fix it real quick. Under the rules a team must give their tyre supplier notice by January 1st of the year prior if they intend to change. I bet there will be a few interesting discussions going on between Ferrari and Bridgestone over the next quarter. It wouldn't surprise me if there weren't the odd lunch at Ferrari headquarters for visiting dignitaries from Michelin and even Goodyear.

Columbian? Nope, don't recall that. Perhaps I'm just too excited by the rumours of Ralf's re-signing with Williams. That's great news as far as I'm concerned. With the Williams coming into a dominance cycle again I'd hate to see them with a Michael as lead driver or two drivers of the calibre of JPM - No one would ever catch them!

Enjoy, The Quali-Flyer

Mate I've been backing Juan Pablo since I saw him in his first year in CART, he reminded me of Ayrton, though he took longer to contend the title than I thought he would. If he can knock chop from the top spot he will be able to write his own ticket - regards - Cooky.


Your right, bet it won't be with Williams though! And, yeah, I knew that when you weren't being a rabid Tifosi you sorta liked him - The Quali-Flyer

Mate have you seen the amount of money flowing into Williams through sponsorship. I believe we are about to have another "Williams" era and I'd say JPM will be there or do you know something I don't regarding this subject? - Cooky

yup, I know that Sir Frank has the tightest errrr ............... fists! in the circus. There is also a general move to reduced salaries with the likes of Juan Pablo, Kimi, Mark and Fernando showing that you don't need Ralf, Jacques or David levels of income to be winners. In that environment I would see JPM finishing his contract with Sir Frank next year before heading to either McLaren or (if Michael retires in 2005) fitting himself up in a Enzo as a company car. Personally I would love to see the Fire and Ice show of Kimi and Juan Pablo in the same car.

As the new rules bite I would see Williams becoming less dominant - not more. One race engines and common wings and brakes will level the playing field among the main players to some extent and 6 race engines will be even less differentiated. I honestly can't see another Michael Schumacher dominating F1 for the foreseeable future. Not only will the rule changes accelerate as the interest wanes pre 2008 when the Concorde Agreement dies and takes F1 as we know it with it but the breadth of talent (both drivers and cars) available will stop one driver having that impact. During the period that Ferrari were as good as the rest Michael only had Hakkinen to contend with. JPM, Raikkonen and Alonso won't have that luxury - The Quali-Flyer

The Championship is clearly between both Schueys, Montoya and Raiko. I think one of the key determinants will be whether McLaren can get the MP4-18 going for the last 3 races or so. If they do, I favour Raiko for the championship with reliability and incidents the only potential obstacle. Now for some goss. Here in Australia the latest rumour is Webber to Williams, Montoya to McLaren and Coulthard to Jaguar! - Byron F - Australia


McLaren have an abysmal record when it comes to reliability from new cars. Given the way the new points system favours consistency rather than winners they may be better off pushing for podiums with the existing car and praying for a Schumi/Montoya 'incident' or a DNF for Michael (it would only take one to level them up again). I don't believe Kimi can win the championship this year through race results - but Michael can still lose it.

The rumour mill works overtime from the British GP to the end of every year. While I would think DC would be a good acquisition for Jaguar I'd be amazed if Montoya (even allowing for contractual freedom) would give up the drive in the Williams to go head to head with Kimi in the McLaren. Personally I can't see Sir Frank letting go of Monty without a fight, he represents the best chance Williams have for a Drivers Gong in 2004.

As for Mark - any seat in a top four car would be a plus but I'd be surprised if Jaguar didn't want him (and his modest salary) for another year. Now, if they could do a trade for DC then its a win-win. Jaguar get 2 British drivers plus all DC's significant experience as a driver and developer, McLaren get another racer and a hugely reduced drivers salary bill. Unfortunately, I suspect that your rumour is just that, a rumour.

It'd be nice though, wouldn't it? - The Quali-Flyer

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