long do we have to put up with . . . .
Download the NewsOnF1.com
Those damn fuel nozzle failures.
Some may feel that the random effect of not being able to refuel during a pit stop adds spice to the race but I find it absolutely frustrating.
To me a race is a competition between teams, which includes the skill of the drivers, strategists, and pit teams. To see all of this turn to custard because a fuel hose played up and forced an extra unplanned and unscheduled pit stop is aggravating to say the least.
In this particular instance it is unlikely that Ralf Schumacher would have finished on the podium if the nozzle on his fuelling hose did not play up but it could as easily have happened to Montoya and he did finish on the podium.
Why is it so hard to develop a reliable refuelling system? Why are the FIA putting up with something so woefully inadequate? Why are the teams not demanding a better service?
The British Grand Prix was won on tyre performance. Had it not rained I suspect that Barrichello would have been lucky to finish in the points, let alone in second place, and Villeneuve would have struggled to get into the points too.
Michelin do not have remotely reasonable intermediate tyres and this was obvious as soon as it started raining. In heavy rain, when full wet tyres are required, they may not be at that much of a disadvantage but in the conditions at Silverstone they had no defence. David Coulthard tried every tyre they had without success. Montoya was the only Michelin driver to finish in the points and he did that against all odds by driving a set of full wet tyres until they were slicks!
At Magny Cours the start is a reasonable distance from Grande Courbe (a double bend fast left hand curve) that leads into the 200km/H (124mph) Estoril right hander which gently eases out into the over 300 km/H (186mph) straight to Adelaide a tight 80 km/H (50mph) sharp right that again leads into a fast infield section where the slowest turn (8) will be taken at around 160 km/H (100mph) before braking down to 80 km/H (50mph) again for Chateu d’Eau. A short straight gets us up to the 80 km/H (50mph) lead onto the straight.
The start has a reasonable chance of being uneventful as the cars will really only slow for Estoril and by then they should have sorted out their relevant positions but if it does go wrong speeds will be very high which will result in serious accidents.
Although the short straight out of Chateu d’Eau may allow for overtaking of slower cars it is only on the pit straight that I believe we will see any real overtaking. The rest of the circuit to Adelaide could see some serious drags for supremacy again.
Although I believe that we could see Williams on the first row of the starting grid, this circuit suits Ferrari, and particularly Michael Schumacher, best. They seem to have the top end speed to hold Williams at bay and are much faster through high speed corners which dominate this track.
Fast corners are also where Michael Schumacher does best so I think that he will be very hard to beat.
Williams will qualify well because it seems that the Michelin tyre is very good for the short, extreme stints that qualifying is. Montoya is very good at timing his run while Michael Schumacher seems to struggle to find a clear track for a full lap.
I do not think that Williams have the overall package to win. They may start strong but will probably lose grip after four or five laps which will last for long enough to hand the race to Ferrari. I could be wrong. Michelin may have solved the problem. But I doubt it.
McLaren may do well. They seem to have a chassis that suits the Michelin better. But I suspect that they still do not have the grunt to compete with Williams on the very fast sections of the French Grand Prix. Engine reliability is also likely to still be a problem.
Despite their poor performance in Silverstone I suspect that Renault may do well in front of their home crowd. This team is getting better and better and should be hounding McLaren.
BAR, Sauber and Jordan could do well if it rains again – only because they are on Bridgestone. The Ferrari engine in the Sauber is showing its age and Honda are still not delivering for BAR and Jordan.
Jaguar and Arrows should be struggling at the back again. Amazing that these teams are evenly matched. Arrows is virtually broke and Jaguar is spending telephone numbers and if it rains there is a chance that Frentzen could do extremely well, even finish in the points, while all the money that Jaguar applies is unlikely to be able to match that. Shows the difference a driver makes. Shows how little difference money can make. Shows how a very bad engine can level the playing field.
Toyota are still learning and seem to be a little down on power which is unlikely to get them anywhere in France.
That leaves poor old Minardi which, although they have had some luck in getting funds allocated to them, can only be regarded as a platform for new drivers, like Mark Webber, to show their worth. Expect to see them fighting off last place with Arrows, Jaguar and Toyota.
The real question is will it be hot enough to give the Michelin runners a chance? If it is very hot it is possible that Michelin may have some advantage over Bridgestone and Ferrari could be threatened by Williams and even McLaren. If it rains it is likely that Ferrari will come first and second again followed by a BAR, Jordan or Sauber as I think it is unlikely that Montoya could repeat his performance on slick wet tyres and get away with it and to expect any sort of performance from Ralf, unless the day is perfect for him, is unlikely.
If the weather is ideal I predict that Montoya will qualify on pole again and Ferrari will overtake him in the pits to lead the race to the end. I do not believe that Michelin have enough hot/fast track advantage to make a difference for more than a few laps.
Agree or disagree ?