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San Marino GP predictions by the Quali-flyer  

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In 2001 David Coulthard won the Real Race at Imola. His chances of winning it again this year are, well let’s be polite and say ‘slight, bordering on zero’. Given the pressure imposed by Kimi’s increasingly competitive qualifying performances and the power of the BMW engine, not to mention the pace of the F2002, David will be very lucky to get onto the first 2 rows of the grid. To make life even harder, the rapid improvement in the Renault’s hot-lap ability could even make row 3 look a bit shaky.

I believe that at San Marino, though perhaps not later rounds, the McLaren Mercedes duo will sit in 5th and 6th, with the Ferrari and Williams BMW cars sharing the front 2 rows. We perhaps should get used to JPM and MS chatting amicably across the grid before that other race, while their vanquished opposition provide a buffer for the rest of the pack (to protect them from the shrapnel at the first corner?).

As for the rest, Jenson will get pipped for 7th and Sauber will be back in contention with Heidfeld in 9th. Fisichella and Salo will be pressed by Massa to round out the 10.

The hot track advantage of the Michelins (on cars that aren’t Red!) is gone and the Jaguars and, to a lesser extent, Toyotas could move back a few places.

Eddie should be thankful Yoong is on Michelins too; he needs all the help he can get. He, Irvine, will again be composing media releases deriding the car while de la Rosa disappears off into the distance and Yoong will go for his usual Saturday outing to ensure he doesn’t have to use his mirrors at the start come Sunday. The lottery in front of him may just see Webber duelling with Irvine, Sato and perhaps even McNish. Bernoldi will, following a slightly improved performance in Brazil, endeavour to get even closer to Frentzen and could even start beside him.

Fisichella, Frentzen, Salo and Webber all go into the 4th round with 3-zip records in hand (charts and standings). All can feel comfortable that come Saturday evening in Italy, they will be 4–0. Schumacher, the elder, and Montoya will join Heidfeld and de la Rosa in going to 3-1 while Jacques and David will have to fight off a draw.

Who then will win the coveted Also Ran award at San Marino? Eddie, Alex, Ralf, Jacques? Or perhaps David will finally step up to the podium? Maybe nobody, perhaps all those ace drivers will earn their miserly stipends and defeat their relatively underpaid opponents, or perhaps not. Saturday’s 4th round of the Real Race will tell.

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Japanese GP 
Qualifying Heroes

1 M Salo
2 J Villeneuve
3 M Schumacher
Japanese GP 
Also Ran Award
Previous Races 
Also Ran Award
USA E Irvine
Italy D Coulthard
Belgium D Coulthard
Hungary JP Montoya
Germany JP Montoya
France R Schumacher
Britain A Yoong
Europe J Villeneuve
Canada D Coulthard
Monaco R Schumacher
Austria J Villeneuve
Spain D Coulthard
S.Marino A Yoong
Brazil R Schumacher
Malaysia E Irvine
Australia N Heidfeld

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