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Brazilian Grand Prix
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An Easy Win For Ferrari ?
2 wins from 2 races so far this season and 6 in a row so far for
Ferrari and Michael Schumacher. Given the performance advantage Ferrari
have over any other team another win in Brazil seems like a forgone
Last year Michael Schumacher the Brazilian GP despite gambling on a two stop strategy but the retirement of Mika Hakkinen made the win a lot easier. Rubens Barrichello suffered a hydraulics problem and retired while David Coulthard finished in 2nd but disqualified due to a technical infringement.
The Brazilian GP is one of the few circuits on the calendar that runs anticlockwise and that puts a lot of demand on the drivers' neck. The track is also punishing on cars due to the 2 long straights one of which goes uphill. Last year only 10 cars finished the race. Perhaps a few more will finish this year but not much more.
Ferrari: They are the team to beat and the other teams are trying to catch up. The dominance they showed at the Malaysian GP was certainly inflated due to tyre choice but they were fast all weekend. Neither Ferrari has been pushed hard for the duration of the race yet.
Reliability 8.5/10 - Speed 9.5/10
Drivers: Michael Schumacher must be the favourite to win this race and nothing can stop him unless he suffers some sort of problem. Their is a small threat from his team-mate who has been running much closer to him than last year. Still a win is expected.
Rubens Barrichello was disappointed after Malaysia and claimed that Schumacher passed him when he was being very careful in the wet. He might be showing some signs of frustration but he might be just trying to play games with Schumacher. This is his home race in Brazil and he would be under a lot of pressure to perform well. The key would be to qualify ahead of Schumacher and have a good start. If he can do that then he could win.
McLaren: The team admits that they won't be able to match Ferrari's pace until they return to Europe as they need to do more testing on the new car. Last week they didn't test with the new car at Barcelona and Hakkinen, Coulthard and Wurz all ran the development cars. It appears that they are getting the reliability from the car but possibly at the expense of speed.
Reliability 7.5/10 - Speed 8.0/10
Drivers: Mika Hakkinen scored his first point of the season in Malaysia and would be hoping to collect some more points here. A win is beyond reach under the normal circumstances. A top 6 finish is likely
David Coulthard continues to show that he can drive cars that are not perfect better than his team-mate. When the car is perfect, Hakkinen has the edge. At least this what we've seen in the past. This year could be the same but at this stage even though his car is inferior to Ferrari, he has managed to collect valuable points. A top 6 finish is likely with a podium a possibility.
Jordan: Already showing that they have improved dramatically this year in terms of both reliability and speed. Both cars finished in Malaysia with Frentzen in the points. At the moment, they are competing with McLaren, Williams and BAR and if Ferrari finish 1st and 2nd, finishing both cars in the points will be tough!
Reliability 7.0/10 - Speed 8.0/10
Drivers: Heinz Harald Frentzen managed to finish in 4th place in Malaysia after almost retiring on the formation lap only to be given a reprieve by Fisichella who couldn't find his grid position. Putting luck aside, a top 6 finish is a possibility but will be a hard fought one.
Jarno Trulli once again misses out on finishing in the points. At the Malaysian GO he actually led the race after the 2 Ferrari's spun out but then he managed to do the same damaging his car in the process. He still managed to finish but outside the points. He has shown signs of brilliance but has yet to get it all together. Frentzen might still beat him here. A top 10 finish is likely.
Sauber: As the season progresses, Sauber will find it more and more difficult to score points. A team with an 1 year old Ferrari engine will not be able to keep up with Ferrari, Mercedes, BMW and Honda. In Malaysia we saw a rare failure by the Sauber on the first lap while the other Sauber spun out.
Reliability 7.5/10 - Speed 7.0/10
Drivers: Nick Heidfeld spun in Malaysia so we couldn't really gauge his performance in the wet. He qualified 11th though behind the top 5 teams so any hope of scoring points would have been due to failures. He could finish in the top 10.
Kimi Raikkonen couldn't show if he'll manage in Malaysia as his car failed him on the first lap. He is still qualifying behind his team-mate but he has yet to learn the circuits as he never drove on them before. A top 10 finish is possible.
Williams: If the performance in Malaysia was anything to go by, they appear to have passed McLaren and are chasing Ferrari. One cannot reach such a conclusion until they race on different types of tracks but they certainly appear strong. If their car is more suited to this kind of track than their opposition then they will again be second behind Ferrari.
Reliability 7.0/10 - Speed 8.5/10
Drivers: Ralf Schumacher managed to fight with Ferrari for pole position. This shows the strength of the car and driver. Sure their qualifying engine must have helped but all the other top teams do the same. Ralf could win this race if one or both Ferrari's get into trouble. A top 6 finish is more likely though with a podium a possibility.
Juan Pablo Montoya had a terrible weekend at the Malaysian GP. Virtually no practice time on Friday yet still managed to qualify in 6th. The race finished for him on lap 3 spinning out. He will be trying to recover from such a weekend. He needs to get closer to Ralf and so far he has failed to do so. This will not help his confidence. A top 6 finish is possible.
BAR: While we are still very early in the season, BAR do not appear to be level with Williams and Jordan. They appear to be slightly behind particularly in qualifying. We couldn't see how well they would perform in Brazil as both cars retired very early. It was surprising to see Panis retire with an oil leak as the team is know for their good reliability.
Reliability 8.5/10 - Speed 7.5/10
Drivers: Jacques Villeneuve spun out in Malaysia in the rain as he did a number of times in the past when the track gets wet. He did qualify ahead of a McLaren and a Jordan but we have yet to see who he performs in a race. A top 6 is possible but tough.
Olivier Panis is starting to show that he is a very fast test driver but appears to struggle in qualifying. Last week in Barcelona he was the second fastest behind Schumacher but it appears that he has trouble translating that into a good qualifying position. A top 6 is possible but tough.
Jaguar: The team appears to have a reliable car and now they are concentrating on speed. They are way behind the top 5 teams and appear to be fighting with Sauber, Arrows and Prost.
Reliability 9.0/10 - Speed 6.5/10
Drivers: Eddie Irvine had to retire following a spin in the wet in Malaysia. He was hit by Verstappen at the start of the race. He seems to be having bad starts from bad qualifying positions. We have yet to see him perform in a race. A top 10 finish is possible.
Luciano Burti despite spinning and crashing cars, he has finished the first 2 races of the season so he could be a consistent driver in the race. A top 10 finish is possible.
Prost: They claim that the speed they showed in preseason testing has yet to be realised. But they are in the same boat as Sauber and the longer it takes them to realise the potential of their cars the closer the other teams will get. They seem to be more reliable though with both cars finishing the race.
Reliability 7.5/10 - Speed 6.0/10
Drivers: Jean Alesi should have done better in the wet in Malaysia. He complained of oversteer in the wet. A finish in Brazil is possible
Gaston Mazzacane managed to qualify just under a second slower than
Alesi so that must be impressive!.
Arrows: They qualified 18th and 19th in Malaysia before Bernoldi was relegated to the back due to a technical infringement. That must be a disastrous qualifying. Verstappen certainly made up for that in the race by having an amazing start and doing well in the wet. However, it seems that the real place for Arrows is way at the back.
Reliability 7.5/10 - Speed 5.5/10
Drivers: Jos Verstappen was brilliant in Malaysia and managed to finish 7th but he won't have brilliant starts every race and neither will the races all be wet. A finish in Brazil is possible.
Enrique Bernoldi spun again in Malaysia. He is having a very bad start to his Formula 1 career. He needs to get it together in Brazil in front of his home crowd otherwise Herbert could take his place ? A finish in Brazil is possible but unlikely
Minardi: Both cars finished in Malaysia even though they were a few laps behind. At least they appear to have reliable cars. They will continue to finish races and take advantage of the other teams that are struggling.
Reliability 7.5/10 - Speed 4.5/10
Drivers: Fernando Alonso didn't manage to qualify ahead of
other cars in Malaysia but was still over a second quicker than his team-mate.
This trend will continue.
Tarso Marques races at his home race but don't expect him to qualify any better than 22nd and be the last to cross the line if he finishes.
Benetton: It is really hard to put Benetton last but until they start doing better than Arrows and Minardi they will stay here. For the second race in a row they qualify 16th and 17th and in the race they have a retirement and a finisher who is 2 laps behind. In testing in Barcelona, they were consistently last and by a few seconds. Yet the team claims that they are satisfied with the progress. Who are they kidding!
Reliability 7.0/10 - Speed 5/10
Drivers: Giancarlo Fisichella, I wonder what is going through his mind, after finishing on the podium last year in Brazil. He is a very good driver but cannot do a thing in the Benetton. A finish is possible but how many laps down would he be ?
Jenson Button needs to be patient and wait until the car gets better or for the 2 years to run out so he can return to Williams. A finish is possible but way back.