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2000 Canadian GP News
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The first of 2 races in North America this year (the other being at Indianapolis). The Canadian Grand Prix promises as always to be exciting and full of surprises. Last year 3 world champions (Villeneuve, Hill and Schumacher) made the same mistake and hit the barrier at the same corner. David Coulthard and Eddie Irvine touched during an overtaking manoeuvre by Coulthard. There were 4 safety car conditions and it was the first Formula 1 race to finish under a safety car condition.
It will be more of the same this year with David Coulthard coming out of a win at Monaco and full of confidence, Michael Schumacher wanting to put a stop to the shrinking lead he has and Mika Hakkinen who desperately needs a good result if he is to have a chance to fight for the championship.
This is the home Grand Prix for local hero Jacques Villeneuve and while he has made a few points early in the season, he will need to have a good result here if BAR are to improve their position in the championship.
The Canadian Grand Prix is were the "silly season" swings into full swing and given that Jacques Villeneuve is at the centre attention here, expect to hear a few more rumours.
Ferrari: They will be strong here, Michael Schumacher gave Ferrari their first pole position here last year and he could repeat that this year. The have a few reliability issues to overcome especially the exhaust problems they had in Monaco as it appears that Rubens Barrichello had the same symptoms on his car.
Even though Michael Schumacher's lead is safe even if he fails to score a point, he needs to maximise the point gap he has to both Coulthard and Hakkinen.
This will probably be one of Rubens Barrichello's final attempts to go on his own trying to win, we are getting to halfway through the season and he is 24 points behind Michael Schumacher. If this continues he will be asked to help rather than fight.
McLaren: Equally strong here, last year Mika Hakkinen won and David Coulthard had pole position in 98. They have arguably the most powerful engine in Formula 1 and that helps here in Montreal. McLaren have the chance to overtake Ferrari in the Constructors championship as they are only 5 points behind. They had a few reliability issues at Monaco so that could still be a factor.
David Coulthard is full of confidence. In the last 4 races, he won 2 and finished 2nd and 3rd in the other 2. He knows that if he delivers a good result here he will gain the upper hand at McLaren. He will fight hard for pole with Hakkinen and Michael Schumacher.
Mika Hakkinen needs a good result as well as if he stumbles again he knows that his chances will be almost over. A strong candidate for Pole position and the win.
Williams: The team has not finished either of their cars at the last 2 events and with doubts over Ralf Schumacher's participation after his injury at Monaco, don't expect miracles from Jenson Button or stand in Bruno Junqueira.
Even if Ralf Schumacher is fit to race, I would be surprised to see the Williams deliver a strong performance here on a track that requires a lot of power.
Jenson Button is under a lot of pressure to perform. He knows that Juan Pablo Montoya could be taking his seat next year. If stand in Bruno Junqueira does participate, the pressure on Button will be even higher. A top 10 finish for one of the cars is possible but I expect engine failures for the Williams team here.
Benetton: They currently have 1 driver driving for them and that is Giancarlo Fisichella who has finished on the podium twice this year while driving a car that doesn't have the power to be in the top 6 yet they are in 4th place only a single point behind Williams. The other driver (Alexander Wurz) appears to have given up or the team has given up on him. Briatore's remarks recently make it certain that he will not drive next year for them but he could even be replaced before then. This track does not suite Benetton as they lack power so unless it is a wet race or conditions change even Fisichella might not be able to score points.
Jordan: Reliability struck again at Monaco and again it was something to do with the gearbox. Both cars crashed out here last year so let us hope that does not happen again. Heinz Harald Frentzen made a rare mistake at Monaco and I am sure he will not make a repeat of it while Jarno Trulli was impressive until his car let him down. A top 6 finish is possible.
BAR: I suspect that this will be the first race of the season where the Honda power will start to show some signs of competitiveness. If reliability holds and the team has been testing with 3 cars recently, I expect BAR to be right behind Ferrari and McLaren. While Jacques Villeneuve has not had good results here (except in 97 when he finished 2nd), expect him to have a good qualifying session possibly in 5th place and a good result in the points. Ricardo Zonta's time is running out. The team must be growing impatient with his mistakes and if they continue expect Darrin Manning (current test driver) to replace him.
Sauber: Scored a point at Monaco, they have a chance here at Montreal but the competition with Arrows and Jaguar will be fierce. Pedro Diniz scored a point here last year while Salo did not race here last year. Still a top 10 finish for both is possible.
Jaguar: Eddie Irvine scored the first points for them at Monaco, Montreal is a totally different track and they will not have the same pace. They will fight with Sauber and Arrow but will not be able to compete with BAR, Williams and Jordan. They still have a few races to go before they improve. Eddie Irvine clearly has the upper hand but even then it will be hard for him to finish in the top 6. That is assuming his car lasts. Johnny Herbert seems to be on his way out of Formula 1 and this is probably one of his last few races.
Arrows: Both drivers retired at Monaco which is not a good sign. The Supertec engine is not powerful enough so they will struggle here. Jos Verstappen crashed out yet again at Monaco while Pedro de la Rosa didn't make the restart. One car could finish in the top 10.
Prost: They had a great chance to score points at Monaco will Jean Alesi. Here at Canada it will be next to impossible. Given the reliability record and the performance let alone the internal politics. I'd be happy to see one car finish.
Minardi: Both drivers retired at Monaco which I didn't expect. Here it will be hard on them again and as I have been saying all season any position higher than the last 2 will be a bonus.
In the last 2 years only 10 cars finished the race, expect
more of the same as this circuit is hard on engines and brakes. Practice starts on Friday
at 11 AM local time. That is 3 PM GMT