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Barrichello's home run  
28 March 2001 Volume 3 - Issue 7  

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Interlagos is a medium speed track with some unique challenges for drivers and teams. Average speed in the past was around 200km/H, although, with this year's tyres, I would not be surprised to see this exceeded by a considerable margin.

The circuit design is similar to the new Indianapolis track in that it is difficult to set up for, although it is not nearly as fast. Half of it is reasonably fast, requiring less downforce to keep average speed high and the other half is tight with slow corners that require substantial downforce. To do well a team must master the compromise between aerodynamic grip and drag.

Six of the eleven corners are below 160km/H(100mph). Of these four are under 130km/H(80mph). Although there are several long, sweeping corners, straights are limited and there are no easy overtaking spots.

If it does not rain we may see limited overtaking on the straight and, if Ferrari can apply their traction control advantage to the longer curves, we may even see some overtaking on the sweeping part of the track.

Tyre and brake wear should not be a problem as there are not that many high speed sections that end in slow corners. Grip in and acceleration out of corners will be critical to overtaking and dealing with back markers. In Brazil it is easy to lose a lot of time behind back markers in the slower sections.

Unless McLaren have improved by almost a second in the wind tunnel, this past week, I still expect Ferrari to be considerably faster than the rest of the fleet. Ferrari also seem to have the reliability that is eluding most of the other teams they have to be favourite!

Barrichello is trying. After talking up a storm about how he will be taking the season to Schumacher he is yet to show equivalent speed during a whole race. He may be fast, but I do not think he will be fast enough to beat Michael, even if it is his home crowd.

McLaren will still be faster than the rest although the gap to Jordan is too small for comfort. The two Jordans are on a mission and Brazil has to be one of their best chances at showing McLaren up. It will be a close race.

BAR may be luckier and finish both cars. If they do, I do not expect them to be as fast as Jordan but they will not be far behind. BAR has had a bad run so far this year and need to finish in the points to keep their hopes of improving on last year's performance alive.

Williams is not up to the speed of the Jordans, although they may be faster than BAR. Ralf Schumacher qualified well in Malaysia and may well do it again in Brazil but the challenge is to convert a good starting position to a podium finish. I do not see him doing that yet.

Montoya is still coming to grips with his car. We can expect him to get faster as the season progresses but have yet to see a performance that suggests that he could beat his teammate.

Although the track is somewhat more sympathetic to teams that are short on power I do not think that Verstappen will be able to repeat the spectacular performance that we saw in Malaysia unless it rains again. The Arrows may have the chassis to optimise mechanical grip but at the end of the day there is just no substitute for ample power.

Of the two customer Ferrari engine powered cars Sauber could finish in the points but Prost is unlikely to. Prost seem determined to follow one bad year with a worse one.

Benetton is also not worth watching in Brazil as they are still too early in the development phase of this year's car. They have been fast in the past and I am sure they will be again but at the moment they are struggling to get the package to work. Later, much later, in the season they may be fast enough to finish in the points.

Minardi is under financed and underpowered. Until this changes anything better than last will be an achievement.


If it does not rain we should be able to get a better picture of how the new rules have affected the ability to overtake. Let's hope overtaking is not dead yet.

Enjoy the race.

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