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When you combine luck with ability   
26 July 2002 Volume 4 - Issue 22   

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8 'n' Pole
2006 World Cup

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There is no doubt that Michael Schumacher is one of the world�s most competent drivers. He certainly has the track record to prove it. Add luck to this and the result makes him practically unbeatable.

Raikkonen did everything right, drove the perfect race and just when it became obvious that Michael Schumacher has decided to settle for second place, Raikkonen got to the oil first which handed the race to Michael.

Maybe he should have seen the oil, he must have seen the yellow flags, but when you are in the lead you do tend to get there first � never a good thing to do if there is oil on the track. I felt for him. It must be hard to see your first Grand Prix win evaporate in seconds.

I am puzzled by the problems that Williams have with tyre wear. They seem to get more grip than anyone else for a short period only which gives them an edge in qualifying but when it comes to the race they destroy their back tyres in a few laps. Montoya must be getting frustrated while Ralf is probably using it as an excuse.

I was very impressed with the performance of McLaren. They are not only coming to terms with the Michelin tyres, they are getting real performance out of them! It may be too late to do anything about the constructors� championship and it is certainly too late to do anything about the drivers� championship, but they are back in the competition for the lead.

Renault may have done well to get Button in the points but they are still not on race pace.

Webber drove another perfect race for Minardi. I am sure that he is being noticed by the top teams and will not be surprised to see him in a much faster car in 2003.

The new track in Hockenheim will again suit Ferrari. It is not as fast as the old track but will still be fast. The long sweep that was created to eliminate the very fast section through the woods will be very fast � expect speeds up to 325 km/H (200mph) and may turn out to be one of the overtaking opportunities. To overtake here means that you will have to be on the outside of this curve where the track may be dirty and have less grip but will be on the inside for the new hairpin at turn 6 where speed will come down to a possible 60 km/H (35mph), pretty near to walking pace.

Overtaking on the pit straight is made difficult be the high speed needed through Agip and Sudkurve, which leads on to the straight. Turbulence from the leading car will make it almost impossible to exit this at a higher (or even equal) speed.

Although the circuit is virtually brand new and we have no historical data on it, I suspect that the changes made will play into Ferrari�s hand. The track is not as fast as it used to be and unless it is very hot, Michelin will not have any advantage. If it rains Bridgestone will dominate again unless Michelin have developed a competitive intermediate tyre.

Ferrari should be the team to beat with Williams having to defend second place from McLaren.

As Michael has now won his fifth world championship there should be no team orders in the Ferrari camp. Barrichello will be allowed to race Michael and will be motivated to do well.

Having said that I believe that Michael is far better at adapting to new circuits than Barrichello who may not be able to be fast enough to take him on at Hockenheim. Regardless of team orders, or the lack thereof, my money is on Michael being most likely to win the race in front of his home crowd.

Montoya may be on pole again but chances are good that his tyres will let him down in the race. Ralf may have a rush of blood to the head and suddenly show some pace in front of his home crowd but I will not be holding my breath.

The circuit is probably too fast for Renault to get near the three leading teams but I still believe that they have the ability to beat the rest.

Sauber, Jordan and BAR may do well if Bridgestone have an edge..

Minardi and Toyota will probably race each other at the back of the field which leaves Jaguar that will be as unpredictable as always. They seem to be getting better but losing wings this late in the season is a concern.

Arrows may not turn up. Financial difficulties and motor racing do not go together and just turning up is already expensive. On the other hand even if they did turn up we are unlikely to notice them.

Because it is for all intents and purposes a new track and some drivers are better than others at adapting to new circuits, it is unlikely that qualifying will be close between team-mates. I think that we will see teams split on the grid and probably even in the race.

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