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
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
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
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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
Cooky, you must have read an advance copy of todays posting! Couldn't
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
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
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 -
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
Pole and see how your predictions stack up against the others. Register