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The changes made to the Nurburgring circuit should favour Ferrari and possibly Renault. The track has been lengthened by adding a very tight, almost hairpin, right turn at the end of the pit straight followed by a new loop in the in field before joining up with Ford Kurve, which has also been made tighter. Dunlop is also tighter and the rest of the track has been left the same as it was last year.
As we have not had a f1 race on the new circuit it is hard to guess at speeds and overtaking opportunities, but here goes:
The start is well back from the first, new and on appearance very slow, right-hander so we could see some carnage on the first lap. The new in field section of a long turn to the left followed by a sharp right hander should be relatively fast before getting up to an estimated 280KM/h(175mph) on the approach to Ford Kurve. That is negotiated at about 110KM/h(70mph) accelerating to 300KM/h(186mph) down to Dunlop where they will be braking down to as low as 80KM/h(50mph). The winding stretch to RTL Kurve will be relatively fast (over 200KM/h or 124mph) and they will barely touch the brakes for Bit Kurve, a fast right, before accelerating up to 300KM/h(186mph) before braking for the Veedol chicane. A short squirt on the accelerator to CocaCola Kurve a reasonably fast (130KMh or 80mph) right turn that leads onto the pit straight where we can expect the cars to get over 300KM/h(186mph).
Overtaking, as on virtually all tracks now, will be difficult. CocaCola is fast enough for aerodynamics to play a role so a following car will find it very hard to stay with a leading car while coping with the turbulence from the leading car. To be in a strong position to overtake on the pit straight depends on the exit speed out of CocaCola. This will be very hard to achieve in dirty air.
Braking into Veedol may be another chance but again it assumes running around the outside through ITT �bogen, a scary and treacherous route.
Although we do not have the advantage of looking at last year�s race to assess the teams on what must be regarded as a new circuit, the layout looks ideal for Ferrari. It should turn out to be close to the middle of the season�s circuits as far as average speed goes and that seems to be where Ferrari is best (not that they are not fast on any other circuits).
Michael will be in front of his home crowd. Although this seems to have less effect on Michael than most drivers. He will want to do well (but then he always tries to do well � and succeeds).
Michael will want to start on pole. He will be looking at that first corner and realise that the safest way will be to get there first and get through it before the chaos starts. The Ferrari�s launch control seems to be evenly matched with Williams, who realistically would be the only team that can challenge for the front line of the grid, so it must be a safe bet that, if they are on the front of the grid, Ferrari will be fuelled to be fast enough to stay out of trouble.
Barrichello is no slouch when it comes to qualifying and could even be on pole. He is however a very emotional driver that allows himself to get demotivated by problems that others seem to take in their stride. If everything goes well he could go well too. He will probably not be allowed to finish one position ahead of Michael, but if Michael wins this race Ferrari must be getting very close to not needing team orders. Barrichello lives in hope!
I am sure that Williams do not regard Nurburgring as one of their best circuits. They will be very fast but not fast enough to win unless Ferrari runs into drama.
Montoya will be fast again and Ralf will be conservative to the point of being boring again. I wonder if Montoya will have to show Ralf how to overtake again?
I wonder if Montoya will break his car again? I know � many of you have written in to say that he is not that hard on his car and was just unlucky, so I take that back. I wonder if he is going to be unlucky again? And I wonder if he is unlucky it will be because his car breaks again?
Although McLaren were a lot better two weeks ago and seem to be fast in practice I do not see them closing the gap to Williams and Ferrari this soon. I expect them to be closer but still firmly in third place.
Coulthard is fast and professional and will finish in the points. Raikkonen has a lot more flair, could be faster but lacks the experience and possibly the maturity to consistently be faster than Coulthard.
In Monaco we saw Coulthard win the start hands down. The McLaren�s launch control seems the best of them all and could play a role again but not in Nurburgring. The distance to the first corner will give the other drivers a chance to recover lost ground. But you never know.
Renault could surprise us all. They are still down on power although they seem to be getting a little more out of their engines every race. They seem to have a chassis that is better suited to the slower circuits or at least not the very fast circuits. They are as fast in the pits as any and they launch off the start better than every other team bar possibly McLaren.
Sauber may fare better than they would on a fast circuit but I do not see them doing well enough to matter. They will be lucky to finish one of their cars in the points.
Jordan, who are now consistently doing better than BAR, are unlikely to shape. They may not be slow enough to worry about Minardi filling their rear-view mirrors but they will also not get into the points unless many better cars retire.
Jaguar must be wondering why they go to the trouble of turning up. In fact I believe that Eddie Irvine has said that in so many words. It is hard to understand how they can spend such a big budget only to compete with Minardi whose entire budget will probably cover Jaguar�s canteen bill for a season.
Minardi on the other hand may now get ahead of Jaguar after being given Prost�s share of the television earnings. They will at least be able to finish the year.
Arrows are not faring any better either. They seem to be going slower and slower. At one stage I thought that they may show Jaguar how it is done but now it is unlikely.
Toyota are struggling to keep up. I am sure that they will gain the experience and know how necessary to challenge for the lead but at this rate it will be several seasons before they can hope for podium finishes.
BAR have yet to score any championship points this season and are very unlikely to change this situation in Nurburgring.
I am afraid that it will be a Ferrari benefit. Both Ferraris on the front of the grid and both drivers on the podium will not surprise me at all.
Agree or disagree ?
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