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What does Barrichello have to do ?   
2 May 2002 Volume 4 - Issue 11   

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Ferrari have finally produced a car that even Barrichello can win races in (always assuming that something happened to Michael Schumacher) and so far he is sidelined every time. As Martin Brundle always said: "If he did not have bad luck he would have no luck at all".

Despite the break down of Barrichello's car at the start of the race Ferrari were dominant for the entire weekend. They were fastest on all three days, qualified on the front row and Michael cruised to a win with the greatest of ease.

Again we have to wonder if we have seen the Ferrari at its best or if it could go faster if pushed. Qualifying is probably the best indicator and Ferrari were well ahead of Williams who are still their closest competitor.

In the early stages of the race it certainly looked as if Williams were comfortably in second and third although it looked as if Montoya was going to push Ralf for that second place for the whole race. Had Ralf not damaged his front wing he could have finished comfortably on the podium and Williams would have earned the same points as Ferrari in the constructor's championship.

Coulthard admits that he only managed third place because of attrition. Because both Michael Schumacher and Montoya probably slowed down in the last laps of the race it is difficult to assess the relative performance of McLaren. Raikkonen, who qualified in 5th was more than a second slower than Michael Schumacher but less than one tenth slower than Montoya and just over two tenths behind Ralf.

During the race McLaren did not look that much slower than Williams but this could be an indication that Williams were struggling.

Both Renaults looked fast enough to stay in touch but just could not last full race distance. They seem to be getting faster and once they get on top of the reliability issue they will be pushing McLaren if not Williams.

Sauber did well to finish in the points with both cars. They finally seem to be as robust as I expected them to be but they just do not have the pace to consistently finish in the points. This time they did but it took a lot of attrition of leading cars to get there.

Frentzen was a surprise. I did not expect him to get anywhere near the points. He did very well to qualify in tenth but on past form I thought that his car would fade into mediocrity again.

BAR and Toyota were both pedestrian. I was surprised at Toyota's poor performance but both Honda powered teams ran true to form.

The tyres seemed to be quite evenly matched. The Bridgestones on the Ferrari performed well and consistently but the same applied to Michelin. If the Michelins did get better with wear it was not by much.

It is possible that we may see Michelin superior on fast, abrasive and hot tracks but I suspect that it would be marginal. Certainly not enough to get Williams back into the hunt unless they find a lot of speed somewhere else.

All in all a very boring race. Ferrari are obviously dominant and as soon as they fix the problems, that seem to haunt Barrichello only, we will see both drivers finish on the podium frequently this season.

Williams will have to pull a rabbit out of the hat to stay in contention. In total the two Williams drivers have one less championship point than Michael Schumacher. To catch up both will need to win three races in which Michael has to retire in at least two - pretty unlikely seeing that Barrichello will be there to contend with (if Lady Luck lets him). Williams may be reliable but the Ferrari is not that flaky.

None of the other teams seem to be improving fast enough to catch up. Renault may be fast enough to get on the podium towards the end of the season but by then it will be too late to make up the huge points deficit they already have.

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