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What is the strategy now! 
19 October 2000 Volume 2 - Issue 34 

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Although Ferrari only need to earn 3 points, the battle for the Constructor’s Championship is still not settled.

McLaren still has a chance and will be desperate to salvage something from the defeat that they must have felt they suffered in Japan. However even if they finish first and second they will only gain 16 points and they are currently 13 points behind. In that case Ferrari only need 3 points to also walk off with the Constructor’s Championship.

Ferrari are unlikely to score less than the three points they need to win the Constructor’s Championship, so I do not like McLaren’s chances. It looks like a cakewalk for Ferrari.

If Ferrari finish 1st and 2nd, I would not be surprised to see Schumacher let Barrichello through to take the chequered flag. It seems to be the traditional thing to do.

On the other hand, although the combination of Schumacher and Ferrari is fast enough to beat both McLaren drivers, I do not think that Barrichello will have the pace to finish in front of both McLarens.

Hakkinen may let Coulthard win, if the McLarens are in the lead, but I can’t see why he would want to. The partnership between these two seems to have eroded.

Regardless of the outcome of the race I expect Ferrari to walk away with both championship titles, but you never know in F1 – both Ferraris may retire.

Sepang is going to be hot, humid and long (around 310km, one of the longest in the season).

It is going to be hard on tyres, brakes and transmissions as the two straights start and end in tight, slow corners. These two straights are also the only overtaking chances, but if recent history is anything to go by we will not see too much overtaking on a circuit that does not allow the cars to reach their maximum speed for long enough.

Of the 14 turns, 12 will be negotiated below 160km/H(100mph) and of those 5 below 130km/H(80mph) so we can expect reasonably high downforce configurations for all teams. We can expect average speeds of around 195km/H(120mph) unless it rains. Not a particularly fast track.

Rain is always a risk. I don’t mean the slight drizzle that we saw in Japan. It could come down in buckets!

We all know that Schumacher is unbeatable in the rain but even he may find it hard to drive in a tropical rainstorm. Fortunately they do not last long, so we may see great climatic variety and that could allow some of the slower teams do well just because of their pit timing.

If the circuit suits any of the two leading teams it will be Ferrari who still seem to be a little faster on tight tracks. This is possibly because McLaren will not be able to take advantage of their straight-line superiority.

But it will be very close. McLaren has nothing to lose and everything to gain – so they will go out fast.

The battle of the race will be between Button and Villeneuve for outright position as well as their standing in the Driver’s Championship. At the rate Benetton have been going Villeneuve could even overtake Fisichella who is only three points ahead of him (what a terrible season Fisichella has had).

Frentzen is also in there with a chance but the way his car has been failing I would not rate his chances very high. He may be a good driver but he certainly does not have the most reliable car.

BAR and/or Jordan could also move up the Constructor’s Championship as both are very close to Benetton and Benetton are unlikely to produce a car to defend their position this late in the season.

Michael Schumacher may have already won the championship but that does not mean that the season is over. Too many teams and drivers still need to gain or defend a position.

It will be an interesting race.

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