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At least Ferrari seems to qualify better!
18 August 2005 Volume 7 - Issue 15

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I thought that Michael Schumacher had a lot less fuel in his car and was surprised to see that he did not pit first.

Bridgestone have been working hard to improve their tyres and it certainly looks as if they came up with a tyre that can qualify, but it certainly did not make it through the race. Michael looked strong for only a few laps before it was obvious that the McLaren is faster.

I cannot make up my mind about Ferrari this season. There are times that I think the whole Ferrari package is not working and other races where I really wonder if it is not tyres alone. Bridgestone seem to be able to produce grip without lasting the distance or come up with a robust tyre that can go the distance with little or no grip.

Well, there is always next year.

Montoya was unlucky – if he did not have a problem with his car it is most likely that he would have won the race. He was nervous at the start of the race because of some incident with a starter motor that he drove over just before the race started so it is possible that it could have been then when the driveshaft was damaged.

Raikkonen looked as if he could go a lot faster. With Montoya retiring and Renault having an awful weekend it is really hard to draw any conclusions from Michael’s second place. Ferrari was not faster, the other teams were slower.

As we have no previous F1 races at Turkey I am not sure that I can give any realistic opinions on this circuit but I will give it a shot:

The circuit is not fast. At least 60% of the race will be well below 300km/H(186mph). Straights are short and at least two of the corners are very slow.

There are three extreme braking areas (for turn 1, 9 and 12) and with the exception of the section between turns 10 and 12 there is little rest for the brakes. Brake temperatures could be an issue here.

The pit straight, although a little short, is possibly the best overtaking opportunity (with the exception of the pits themselves) both other two straights require slip-streaming in the fast corners leading in to them and we already know from experience that does not work.

It is a busy track and an anti-clockwise track – both issues that will tire drivers more than usual.

It is hard to guess which team will do better here. McLaren seem to be the fastest at the moment but their reliability may let them down.

Raikkonen will definitely want to win this race but judging from the track layout there are a lot of kerbs to bounce over and I do not know if his car will last. Raikkonen has amazing car control in situations where the cars balance has been upset (like bouncing over kerbs) but the downside of that is that it puts an extraordinarily high stress on the engine and transmission train while stressing suspension to the max. If it can break he will.

Montoya is a little easier on his car but prone to losing control over his car. Regardless of his ability to recover from these little losses I do not think that Turkey is the track to do it on. Too many turns with too many chances to park in the kitty litter.

Renault should be luckier with getting the set up sorted out before the race (let’s face it they cannot be worse at it than they were in Hungary) so they will be strong too.

Alonso does not need to win any more races to have a very good chance at the championship but he can also not afford to finish out of the points too often. The pressure is not off yet.

In the past I would have said that Fisichella had a great chance in Turkey. He is better at the slower circuits and has the smoothness it will take to do well, but he has not impressed much in the last few races. It is almost as if he has accepted retirement.

Ferrari could be fast in the first half of the race. it is not a fast circuit (Ferrari does not seem to be good on the faster circuits) so expect Michael Schumacher close to the front until his tyres fade away, which will not be later than half distance.

Barrichello will in all probability amble around in mid-field but this could be one of those rare moments when he is brilliant. Who knows?

I do not know what to say about BAR. Every time I say that they are looking better they prove me wrong and every time I discount them they do well. Instead of jinxing them by saying that they seem to have both the power and the chassis to do well here I am going to say that I do not think they have a chance. Maybe then Button will get his customary third podium position again.

Williams, now there is a team in trouble. BMW is unlikely to help, the chassis seems pedestrian and they will be Cosworth powered next year so it is gong to be a long time before they can realistically dream about podium positions. Webber and Heidfeld seem pretty evenly matched but I do not regard either of them as great drivers.

Sauber are planning for next year and Red Bull must be too. For them the season is over.

Minardi and Jordan have had a pretty good season so far – they did not go broke.

That leaves Toyota – the wild card. They do not seem to be making any faster progress than they did in the past but I have noticed either Trulli or Ralf Schumacher in strong positions during many of the latter races. Toyota may not be good enough to get to the podium every race but they are inevitably moving closer.

All drivers have their favourite circuits and those they hate. Some circuits take a few laps to get to know and others could take a lifetime. Not all drivers like the same circuits and not all hate the same circuits.

Turkey is new for all of them. Some will love the circuit and settle down to fast times from the first day others will find that the weekend is too short to get to know the circuit well. Setting up the car will be simple for some and impossible for others.

I like watching the first race on a new circuit because it is so unpredictable. Who knows who will be fast on Sunday?

Agree or disagree ?

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