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Williams first real chance   
28 August 2002 Volume 4 - Issue 24   

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Well, with Ferrari already having enough points to win the constructor�s championship and Michael with enough points to win the driver�s championship without attending another race this season one must wonder what their plans are for the rest of the season. Another win will take Michael to a record 10 wins in a season while another win for Barrichello may cement his second place in the drivers' championship.

They certainly made it look easy in Hungary. Barrichello led from the first lap and apart from Michael Schumacher, none of the rest of the field could even stay in touch.

Montoya and Raikkonen raced each other but the rest was a procession.

Michael had a little bit of fun towards the end of the race when he broke the lap record, demonstrating that he was certainly not racing at anything near the potential of the Ferrari, but the rest was fairly uneventful and somewhat boring.

Spa only has two slow corners. 14 corners or bends are negotiated at well over 160km/H(100mph) and 65% of the lap will be raced under full throttle. Brake and tyre wear is not a particular problem so we may see McLaren out on a softer compound again.

There is no pit straight . The starting grid is on a slight curve and there is almost no distance before the first corner which is rounded at 65km/H(40mph). From there through �corners� like Eau Rouge and Kemmel it is flat out up to over 350km/H(217mph) before braking for Les Combes to around 146km/H(90mph), the start of the turns 5, 6 and 7 s bends. A stab at the accelerator to the Rivage hairpin exited at 160km/H(100mph) onto a short straight that leads into the fast and twisty inner section of the track before Stavelot where the next high speed run (way over 300km/H or 186mph) starts, and ends at La Source.

For cars with the top speed advantage the lead into Les Combes will be the better overtaking place as the rest of the circuit does not lend itself to overtaking.

Ferrari have the best general package and should win this race. They are fast and reliable, it will take a lot to beat them.

Williams may be able to get and stay in front of Ferrari. Montoya could easily qualify on pole again and he would be hard to overtake if his tyres last. Their straight line speed is good, so why do I think that they will not win?

To start with I believe that Michelin have not got their act together. If it is a very hot day they may have the advantage over Bridgestone but a cool or wet weekend will hand the race to Ferrari.

It is more likely that McLaren will get the necessary performance out of Michelin and, although they are not as fast as Williams, get to the finish line before the Williams.

Renault is probably the best of the rest with Sauber closely behind them.

BAR and Jordan will probably compete in the Honda class just ahead of Toyota. Jaguar and Arrows (if they show up!) will compete in the Ford engine class while trying not to come last. Minardi will view anything better than last as succeeding.

If it rains, which could easily happen, the race could be interesting as drivers like Fisichella get a chance to show off their skill in a car that suddenly has enough power to stay with the leaders. If it rains during qualifying but the race is dry, we could have cars start further down the grid than they should and the subsequent scramble to overtake slower or less nimble cars could be interesting.

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