nof1l.gif (4731 bytes)

F1 Merchandise

Will Ferrari have a bad start to the season?   
20 March 2003 Volume 5 - Issue 3   

blank.gif (809 bytes)
blank.gif (809 bytes)
Main Page
Formula 1 News
2016 F1 Schedule
2016 F1 Line-up
2015 F1 Results
F1 Teams
F1 Drivers
NewsOnF1 Mobile
10 'n' Pole
Register - Submit
F1 Regulations
The Forums
Live F1 Coverage
Motorsport Shop
Motorsport Calendar

F1 Merchandise UK
F1 Merchandise USA

F1 Tours
F1 Tickets
F1 Diecast
F1 Videos
F1 Games
F1 Trivia
NewsOnF1 on Twitter
MotoGP Tickets
Past Formula 1 Seasons
2015 F1 Results
2014 F1 Results
2013 F1 Results
2012 F1 Results
2011 F1 Results
2010 F1 Results
2009 F1 Results
2008 F1 Results
2007 F1 Results
2006 F1 Results
2005 F1 Results
2004 F1 Results
2003 F1 Results

2002 F1 Results

2001 F1 Results

2000 F1 Results

1999 F1 Results

1998 F1 Results

1997 F1 Results
2010 World Cup
Contact Us
Your Say
Diagnosis & Prognosis
By the Heretic
Controversy Corner
The Real Race
By the Quali-flyer
F1 Testing
F1 Team Reports
8 'n' Pole
2006 World Cup

Download the
powered by Alexa

Ferrari certainly did not do well in Melbourne, probably because for a change they did not get their strategy right. In Malaysia they have not been so dominant in the past so they may struggle to get a driver on the podium.

Malaysia�s Sepang circuit will be hot, regardless of the weather. Rain is always a possibility but as soon as it stops the track will rapidly rise in temperature.
The track is not particularly abrasive so tyres last reasonably well. In previous seasons teams have mentioned that grip is fairly low on this circuit, which demands higher than normal downforce.
The drag associated with a higher downforce will mean that top speeds on the four straights will be affected. Some teams may go out on a lower downforce configuration to give them the ability to overtake even if it means being slower on the twisty parts of the circuit.
It is a medium to fast track, which could suit both McLaren and Williams. In Melbourne both these teams looked fast in a straight line.

I repeat below the comments I made last year with regards to the track:

Depending on the aerodynamic setup of the cars overtaking should be possible on several places on the circuit (some better than others).

After turn 1 and 2 (which I tend to combine as a single S-bend) the cars accelerate through a right hand sweep (turn 3) on to a short straight ended by a very tight right hander (turn 4).

Given more grip that the car being passed it should be possible to build up enough speed to overtake on the short straight and still get a good line through the 2nd gear turn 4.

Turn 4 is followed by two sweeping curves after a very short straight. Lots of power could get there first under acceleration.

For the very brave it may also be possible to out-brake a competitor into turn 7 and 8 (which is really a single double apex corner), but between turns 8 and 9 is the first real opportunity to overtake an evenly matched car. The exit out of turn 8 will be fast and the exit speed from this corner will determine the speed on the straight. Overtaking means getting that exit right. Speeds should get up around 250km/H(155mph) before braking for the extremely sharp left handed corner that leads into turn 10, a gentle right handed sweep.

After that there is no opportunity for overtaking (unless it is a back marker between turns 11 and 12) until you get to turn 14 which leads on to the first of the long grandstand straights. Again exit speed is important, as it will determine terminal speed at the end of this rather long straight. If the overtaking manoeuvre is balked there is a second chance after the sharp 2nd gear left-handed hairpin (turn 14) that leads onto the pit straight.

McLaren, particularly Kimi Raikkonen, could do very well in Malaysia. In Melbourne the cars were consistently fast and at one stage I thought that they were looking good for first and second, which, with 20/20 hindsight would have happened if Raikkonen was not penalised for speeding in the pit lane (not his fault it was a faulty speed limiter).
They certainly seem to have the power and speed to take on Williams.
Coulthard is not a fast as Kimi but he is very consistent and conservative and will again take advantage of any mistake made by the other drivers.

Williams could also do well but it better be Montoya. Ralf Schumacher drove a race that bordered on pathetic in Melbourne. Montoya had a chance of winning the race but his decision to stay on his original tyres let him down. It seems that unscrubbed Michelins still lack in performance.

Ferrari have yet to prove or disprove the common feeling that they still have an edge over the other teams. Strategically they made a lot of mistakes in my opinion in Melbourne. Going out on wet or intermediate tyres when virtually everyone else competing with them was on slicks was a huge gamble that just did not pay off.
I do not understand why they did that. There were risks in that that I feel were totally unnecessary taking into account that they must have been reasonably confidant that they were still competitive. In all races the chances of the pace car coming out is always much higher in the early laps so even if Ferrari managed to storm ahead they may lose it all behind the pace car. An extra stop to change to slicks early in the race is guaranteed to get the car out in the middle of the field from where it is hard to recover.
Leaving Barrichello out on tyres that did not work ended his race. Why they did not pull him in sooner I will never know.
We will just have to see what happens. Ferrari could still be dominant but this is not the track that they have been so dominant in the past.
There seems to be very little difference in performance between the Ferrari drivers. I suspect that if it comes to it Michael is more capable of putting in a few very fast laps but Barrichello seems to be on top of his car too.

Renault has improved enormously. To be able to compete with Sauber this early in the season is a major achievement but I am afraid that it will still be a year or so before we will see them competing for the lead.
Trulli impressed me and Alonso was brilliant taking into account his lack of race experience. It will not be long before they are well clear of Sauber.

Sauber, on the other hand, must make hay while the sun shines. They may have an engine that is competitive now but as the season rolls on they will rapidly drop back when the other teams improve performance and horsepower.
Heidfeld�s suspension failure in Melbourne was unfortunate as he looked as if it was going to be one of his best races ever. Frentzen was better than he has been for a while now but in my opinion his performance is too erratic to rely on.

I am surprised that the Honda motors in both BARs made it to the end. During the off season practices they were blowing motors faster than Honda could make them and this seemed to continue right up to the pre race practices in Melbourne.
They need more power and more reliable engines. This may elude them for most of the season and if it does we will not see them in the points too often.
Villeneuve seems to have lost little of his passion and ability. He still gives it all and if he gets the car that can do it he will finish on the podium. Button on the other hand has a lot to prove, I have not made up my mind about him.

Verstappen finished last in the Minardi. As a statement that sounds pretty bleak and is about where we would expect Minardi to finish, but if you look at the teams that they outlasted to come last it is not bad at all. The Minardi driven by Wilson suffered a radiator leak caused by a stone or something similar � when last did this happen? They seem to be reliable and they are not that slow. They could do comparatively well this season on Ford power.

Jordan did not look fast at all. They will have to do better with their limited budget. If not they will be as much of a joke as the Prost team were.

Webber was looking reasonable in the Jaguar until his suspension failed. As this also happened to Pizzonia later in the race we can expect them to have this fixed for Malaysia.

Toyota looks a little better than last year but I still expect to see them improve very gradually over the season. They have a long way to go.

I believe that the greatest factor is the adjustment to the new qualifying rules. So many factors have to be taken into consideration when planning for the race. It may be better to qualify with a full tank and wait for everyone to pit before getting to the lead. Ferrari may have been right to qualify light (if they did) and use their advantage to stretch the gap they need to pit and still join the race ahead of the field.

A slower team like Minardi could qualify on pole with just enough fuel to start the race. Other teams may qualify on pole with enough fuel to stay out for a while longer. They could hold up and spoil a faster team�s strategy.

Starting on a full fuel load may play into a team�s hand if the pace car comes out and bunches the group up just before their biggest competitor must pit to refuel.

It is almost guaranteed that Montoya will be qualifying on worn tyres if he is trying for pole. Where does that leave him in the race?

On some racetracks it may be essential to qualify towards the front and on others it may not matter. We have no idea and I suspect that most of the teams are not that sure either. It will take time before they have a full understanding of how the game should be played and how the other teams are likely to plan their race. At the moment it is chaotic.

All the same, expect Ferrari, McLaren and Williams to fight it out in the front of the field after all of the confusion has died down.

Agree or disagree ?
Please submit any comments you have on this commentary below

Your comments and the Heretic's reply could be published on NewsOnF1.

Email address:


Previous Heretic Issues
The Heretic's Season Preview

Back to Top


Official 2004 F1 Season Review

Autocourse 2004 Annual

F1 World Championship Yearbook 2004

The Official Tribute To Ayrton Senna
1960 To 1994

Formula 1 Technical Analysis: 2003

Chariot Makers: Assembling the Perfect Formula 1 Car

The Science of
F1 Design

The Complete Book of Formula One: All Cars and Drivers Since 1950

Formula 1 Books

Race Driving Books

Race Car Design Books

Magazine Stand

Ayrton Senna

Past Formula 1 Drivers