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Ferrari or Williams ?  
11 June 2003 Volume 5 - Issue 9   

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I think that it is highly unlikely that McLaren will have the power or speed to be competitive in Montreal so the race will be between Williams (if they still have a power advantage) and Ferrari. My money is on Ferrari.

I was absolutely amazed at the pace of the Williams in Monaco. I was even more surprised to see Ralf Schumacher on pole and so superior in the first stint of the race. Whether it was just a bad set of tyres (possibly with the wrong pressure) or some other problem he certainly lost an incredible amount of pace in one pit stop.

Monaco may give us a clue why Williams are struggling this season. Their chassis obviously has a lot of mechanical grip and it is questionable if this will be compatible with their power advantage on the faster tracks. We have however not seen them perform on very fast tracks so the jury is out.

Raikkonen was also very fast but just not fast enough to do anything about Montoya in front of him. His only opportunity was to build enough buffer to pass Montoya in the pits (the only real option at Monaco) but that was baulked by slower cars, forcing him to settle for second place. Coulthard, who always did well in Monaco, was disappointing. Maybe he should retire.

This year Ferrari�s new car does not seem to have the mechanical grip advantage on the slower, windy circuits but that was not their only problem. Their tyres were appalling. Fastest laps were posted on new tyres when the cars were at their heaviest instead of late in a stint when the fuel load was at a minimum. Seeing that Monaco is not that hard on tyres, it does not auger well for Bridgestone shod teams this season.

I expected Renault to do much better. I felt that they had the chassis to cope with Monaco where their lack of power should not have been relevant. They may have had the wrong strategy for the day but I felt that they never looked particularly fast. They were on the right tyres so they should have been better.

It is very difficult to comment on the performance of the rest of the teams. Monaco has a tendency to create processions and this race was no different.

On average lap speed Canada is not one of the faster circuits of the season, being only marginally faster than the Brazilian and French Grand Prix. It is however a power circuit demanding top speeds of at least 320km/H (198mph) to be competitive along the Droit du Casino and Pont de la Concorde.

The start is reasonably close to Coin Senna the sharp left/right turn (1 and 2) where they will be braking down to 80km/H(50mph) before accelerating through a gentle right hand curve (where speeds will get up to 270km/H or 166mph) , braking for turns 3 and 4, another �S� formation where speeds will again come down to around 135km/H(77mph) before accelerating through turn 5 a fast right hand kink to turns 6 and 7, a further left/right "S" which is taken at around 150km/H(93mph).

From here it is flat out up to 330km/H(204mph) before braking down to 100km/H(62mph) for yet another loose "S" (turns 8 and 9). After that they get up to 265Kmh/165mph before braking down to 80km/H(50mph) for turn 10 a tight right hand hairpin that leads on to the straight.

Now we get to the fast part of the circuit as cars will get up to an estimated 340km/H(210mph) before braking for turns 12 and 13 that could almost be described as a chicane. (For those who have noticed: yes I did not mention turn 11 as that is a mild sweep soon after the exit of turn 10, that in my opinion is pretty much part of a straight that has been defined as a turn).

Turn 13 exits onto the pit straight and we are ready for another lap.

The very slow exit out of turn 10 makes the section between turns 10 and 12 the best overtaking opportunity. Cars will be running at their maximum speed and a car with superior pace should be able to get by.

The slow exit out of turn 13 onto the pit straight (if you can call it a straight) and out of turn 7 could also create an opportunity in the following faster sections.

The circuit is an interesting combination of power straights that are not exactly quite straight where speeds are so high that the required downforce can be achieved with pretty small wings and slower corners where a lot of wing is needed to be fast. Setup is always a compromise between grip and drag and on any circuit it could severely affect a team�s ability but here that compromise is crucial.

I do not think that McLaren have the power to win the race in Canada. They seem to be down on power, which will lose too much against Ferrari and Williams on the very fast sections to make up for it in the slower sections where their chassis could come into play.

Nevertheless I expect to see Raikkonen in the first four, or very close to it. He has the ability to be fast under any circumstances and if McLaren decide to forfeit downforce for straight line speed he is far more likely to use it to his advantage than Coulthard, who seems to be slowing more and more.

Coulthard is more likely to finish the race but I will be very surprised to see him do well.

I do not believe that we have seen the new Ferrari fully unleashed. In Monaco we would not have noticed it if they shaved off a few hundred rpm and before that their new car would have been pampered as much as possible. They now have some race experience and I am expecting to see them push the cars harder.

Ferrari have never pushed a car harder than they needed and Schumacher has the experience to only use as much as he needs. At the end of the season they may again park the car knowing that they could have been faster if the need arose.

Michael Schumacher won this race last year and, in my opinion, is most likely to win again this year. More significantly, he has been on pole here three times in the last four years. It is a circuit that he likes and is fast on.

Barrichello confuses me. He seems to be very fast on some circuits but pedestrian on others. If he has not found the ability to be consistently good on most, if not all, by now it is unlikely that he will improve. I could not guess where he will finish. He may come second but is just as likely to finish 8th.

Williams may have what it takes to be fastest in Canada. They certainly are rumoured to still have the most powerful engines and Montoya is very fast, but I do not think so. Monaco proved that they have a very good chassis for the slower corners, so we must assume that, as BMW is complaining about the chassis, it does not perform well at high speed. Canada needs both to be competitive.

However, Montoya cannot be discounted. If Williams gives him a fast car that has some handling problems, providing that they are not debilitating, he will find a way to be competitive. His ability to adapt and compensate for the weaknesses in the car is amazing.

Ralf, on the other hand, can only be fast if it is handed to him on a plate. Give him a great car and he is fast. Get anything wrong and his performance instantly lacks lustre.

Regardless of how fast Alonso is Renault is unlikely to be as fast as the leading three teams. They just do not have the grunt to be fast enough for Canada.

It is interesting that both Jordan and BAR have the same number of points so far this season. With Jordan changing to Ford power one must assume that Honda would have put more effort into BAR as they are now the only Honda representatives on the circuit. BAR seems to be a little better but are not pulling away from Jordan so far this season.

Villeneuve will want to do well in front of his home crowd and, like they have done in the past, Honda could pull out all the stops for this race. If they do it will probably reduce the reliability of his car, which is already flaky.

Sauber have not taken advantage of the tried and tested Ferrari engine this year. In previous years they were much more competitive at the start of the season, tapering off as further engine development in the other cars evolve and stabilise. This year they have been pedestrian from the start.

Jaguar may do better in Canada if they can keep up the development of their car while improving reliability. The car seems faster but it is hard to tell because it is not finishing enough races.

Webber is fast and seems to also have the ability to cope with small problems in his car (as long as it does not stop or lose power). Pizzonia has not impressed. Maybe he needs experience.

Minardi are going to be at the back of the pack � if they finish

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