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Austrian GP predictions by the Quali-flyer  

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Ferrari first, Ferrari second, daylight third (again?).

Oop's, that was Spain. Or was it? The A1 Ring is a power circuit, which means Williams will reign supreme. Or will they? Last year Michael Schumacher beat the Williams into second and third with (the old) Rubens just adrift of Ralf in 4th. This year will see Michael again on pole, having beaten Barrichello's best time by a poofteenth of a second with 4.7 seconds left in the session (sound familiar?).

Jenson Button beat Ralf into 17th (!) in 2000, Juan Pablo beat Ralf into 2nd last year. Look to a repeat performance this year with JPM behind the other Schumacher and Ralf tucked in behind Rubens.

Every Also Ran winner this year has responded to their award and outqualified their opponent at the subsequent round (except Yoong, who can be excused, after all he can't drive so is at a distinct disadvantage). I don't see David rising to the occasion though. Kimi has never started from anywhere but 5th on a grid this year, why should he muck up a perfectly consistent record? Raikkonen will be 5th. Closely followed by Trulli, Coulthard, Button and Heidfeld. (see charts and standings)

Frentzen showed in Spain that the Arrows is quick. He will show in Austria that Spain wasn't a fluke. Look for him in a credible 10th.

Webber, Salo and Frentzen will go 6-0 up on their opponents in Austria and the rest will follow the emerging trends of supremacy. Villeneuve went 3-2 down to Panis in Spain, Austria will make it 4-2. Massa is getting better very quickly but Heidfeld still has the upper hand and will go 5-1. Yoong will qualify (22nd) and, Jaguar fuel irregularities aside, will once again give the front-runners (and everybody else down to 21st on the grid) lots of overtaking practice on Sunday.

Toyota will improve and Fisichella will again be the quickest of the Honda runners. Jaguar could really surprise us all with the new Cosworth breath of life and put both cars in front of Webber's Minardi.

I am really quite concerned with the amount of electronic control on cars this year. Schumacher has a hidden switch on his car, marked "Qualifying Autopilot". When activated this device takes complete control of the car, downloads Rubens' telemetry, adds 0.01% to his speed in each sector and takes passenger Michael for one perfect hot lap at the end of the session. I hope this device fails but after having performed faultlessly since it was fitted I have to assume it will work again in Austria.

Hey, have you got a better explanation for his recent exploits?

Rubens has to be the unluckiest guy in the pack these days. He finally remembers how to drive fast, does so immaculately, and still can't win a trick. Michael on the other hand is the luckiest. He is the best driver out there and works very hard at staying lucky but how long can it last? If he wasn't already a gazzillionaire he could have done very nicely for himself touring the casinos. Rubens however needs to avoid the craps tables at all costs.

Special note to Eddie Irvine:

Dear Mr Irvine,

While I do understand that the Jaguar is a woeful beast (listening to you puts it on par perhaps with a 1976 Trabant for power and handling and just behind the Wartburg of the same era for braking efficiency and ease of driving) running rocket fuel may not be the smartest way to make a Cosworth engine go harder.

Putting as much effort into driving as you do into the Press Conferences and pushing it like HH Frentzen does might be a better solution. Try it. Who knows, you might even beat Sato, McNish and Webber in Austria.

This would of course create a precedent and possibly make people expect you to do it again sometimes, so perhaps you are indeed better off just keeping on telling us how slow the car is, then proving it in the real races.

Warmest Regards,

The Quali-flyer

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Monaco R Schumacher
Austria J Villeneuve
Spain D Coulthard
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