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Michelin and BMW ?  
6 August 2001 Volume 3 - Issue 25  

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We expected Williams to do well in Hockenheim and they certainly did. We know that Williams have a power advantage over the other two leading teams and it certainly showed.

Reliability may still be a problem for Williams. I do not agree with Ralf's observation that he was expecting Montoya's car to fail because it was being driven too hard. It is safe to assume that all cars have engine management controls, which are set before race starts. Montoya's car may have been limited to higher revolutions than Ralf's and that may explain why Montoya was faster. It would also explain his engine failure, which looked like a mechanical failure in the right bank - typical of consistent high revs. If that was the case it is a decision made by the team and Montoya's only fault was to drive to the limit (which is what he is paid to do).

Now if Ralf had said that he expected Montoya's tyres to go off, it would have been a different matter. But then he was not close enough to take advantage of that.

Montoya is fast and has adapted to the car. He certainly is fast enough to challenge Ralf. He does drive on the limit and seems more likely to break things than Ralf. But if it were I, Ralf, I would take notice. Soon he will be hard to beat.

Track conditions and temperature suited Michelin. It is hard to determine the extent to which the Michelin tyres contributed to William's success. I suspect that it was considerable as four of the six cars that finished in the points were on Michelin tyres.

Williams can safely assume that temperatures will be relatively high for the rest of the season and, with the exception of Hungary, the rest of the circuits are fast. Cold weather and rain seem to be the only factors that will stop them from being dominant (give or take a few engine failures, which are likely).

There is a lot of controversy over the decision to restart the race. Most of the objectors felt that it was a poorly disguised attempt to get Michael Schumacher back into the race. Villeneuve stated that he was surprised as the start is by far the most dangerous part of the race and it would have been safer to clear the debris with the pace car out.

Burti, Bernoldi and Schumacher's cars left an enormous amount of shrapnel on the track. It is possible that this could have been cleaned while the cars are lapping safely behind the pace car and if none of the cars picked up any of the razor sharp slivers of carbon fibre, the race could have continued.

Although I do not doubt that giving Michael Schumacher a second chance would have been seen as a side benefit, I cannot believe that the decision was made on any grounds other than safety.

Although we often assume that these decisions are made only to maximise the safety of the drivers, it is not true. The safety of drivers, pit crew, marshals and spectators must be, and is, considered before any of these decisions are made.

In this particular case, the Race Director had to make a snap judgement. He did not have much time as a full restart of a race is only allowed if less than two laps are completed. There was a lot of debris lying around. Several laps behind the pace car would definitely have given some of the fleet a slow puncture (if not a fast one) - that in itself is a dangerous situation. With 20-20 hindsight it is easy to criticise.

He made the call. I believe it was the right one at the time. I do not believe that it was made to give Michael another chance, or to please the crowd.

Interesting that both Ferraris that Michael drove failed, although for different reasons.

Ferrari, like all teams, are probably pushing the limits of their car in an attempt to match the straight line speed of the Williams. Under those circumstances one must expect some failures but two out of three cars seem a bit ominous.

It certainly seems as if McLaren do not have the pace to run with Ferrari. Barrichello may have managed to slip past both McLarens on a lighter fuel load before his first pit stop but when he overtook Coulthard the second time he was actually heavier than the McLaren. Hungary seems to be their only remaining hope of finishing on the podium.

Villeneuve drove a perfect race to finish in third place. Given a good car he still has the ability to perform.

Barrichello impressed me with his consistent performance too. He may not have had the pace to take the Williams cars on but they were not getting away from him. Unfortunately he could only do this because of the two-stop strategy he adopted and after the long pit stop when the fuelling hose failed; his chances of challenging (albeit ever so slim) were gone.

I am amazed that the organisers are still prepared to accept defective fuelling hoses (or couplings). These are supplied by an independent organisation and although the teams are allowed to check and clean the hoses before the race they are not allowed to fiddle with them too much.

I can understand the logic of outsourcing this to an independent company, as flow control would then be regulated. What I cannot understand is why two failed (Montoya and Barrichello). In Barrichello's case it did not affect the outcome of the race but it is possible that Montoya's car overheated while waiting for the pit crew to swap hoses, and this lead to his ultimate retirement.

Over the season we have seen several drivers being disadvantaged during refuelling for reasons beyond the control of the teams. Why are we accepting this? Surely it is not that hard to fix?

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