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Is it all Ferrari now ?   
10 September 2002 Volume 4 - Issue 26   

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With Ferrari being dominant for the early part of the season, we were all waiting to see if they could be caught in the second half of the year where circuits are faster and hotter. Last year Michelin had a definite advantage on hot, fast tracks. They took a while to scrub in properly, but thereafter they lasted well while the Bridgestone tyres rapidly lost grip.

There are still some indications that Michelin are competitive on fast circuits but they seem to have lost the absolute advantage that they had last season. Williams, who did very well in these circumstances last year, do not appear to be able to manage their tyre wear nearly as well this year. They may have the power to stay with Ferrari on the long straights but that is about all.

At Spa, Ferrari did it with the greatest of ease. Michael started from the lead and never looked threatened. Rubens, in the second Ferrari, was considerably slower than Michael but even that was far too fast for the rest of the field. Kimi Raikkonen who qualified second, had a disappointing race that ended abruptly when his engine failed on lap 35 but by then he was in 5th place and not looking as if he could regain any lost ground.

I was surprised to see Eddie Irvine finish in 6th place after spending most of the season just ahead of Minardi.

Monza is shaped like a bent oval race track marred by chicanes. The start is almost halfway down the pit straight which will, on a normal lap see speeds up to 360km/H (235mph) before ducking through the Retifino chicane, accelerating through Curva Grande up to just under 350km/H (210mph) for turns 3 and 4 which are 160km/H (100mph) right-handers before again reaching 350km/H (210mph) before 5, 6 and 7 negotiated above 140km/H (90mph). Back to 350km/H (210mph) up to Parabolica which is a fast (over 160km/H or 100mph) right hairpin that leads on to the straight.

Overtaking at Monza is drag racing. The straights are all long enough for faster cars to get past but it does require a definite power advantage.

Ferrari is best placed to win here again. Of the two Ferrari drivers Michael is most comfortable on very high speed circuits and will in all probability qualify better than Barrichello who will again find it hard to keep pace with Schumacher.

I do not believe that McLaren have the legs to do well. They may have improved on their early season performance but I suspect that on the very fast circuits Williams will still be faster. Raikkonen is showing that he is fast and frequently faster than Coulthard in qualifying but he still makes the mistakes that come with limited experience. David Coulthard may not be as fast as Raikkonen can be for a lap but is a very experienced driver and more likely to finish.

Montoya could do well again. He certainly is faster than Ralf on the faster tracks but I wonder if his car is robust enough to last at Monza.

The rest of the field is a crapshoot. Jaguar seem to be getting faster, although it is a little late, and Eddie Irvine may finish in the points again. If Renault last they could be in the fight for the last points positions.

Toyota may benefit from the very high speed and do better than their form to date which has been rather pedestrian.

Out of the Honda powered cars I suspect that Villeneuve will do best. BAR seem to be winning this battle now although Jordan looked stronger in the early part of the season.

Sauber is not fast enough to do well on these faster circuits. I suspect that they will finish in the middle of the field and Minardi will be definitely too slow to do much better than last.

If Arrows attend they will share the back with Minardi.

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