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2003 San Marino Grand Prix 
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Things may change in Europe

After the first 3 races of the season, Formula 1 heads to Europe. So far the results have been a bit of a surprise but so have the races. One cannot yet claim that the new rules have caused the unpredictability as in Australia and Brazil there was a wet track and in Malaysia there was a first corner accident. Eventually things will start to settle down and we'll get to see a race run under dry conditions and a clean start, lets hope San Marino will offer that.
Another contributing factor to the results are the tyres. Since their debut, the Michelin tyres have proven to be better in the heat while the Bridgestones were more suited to the milder temperatures of Europe. If that remains the case this season, then expect the Bridgestone runners to show more pace.

It is far too early to predict the outcome of either championship. It is true that McLaren have a 16 point lead over Renault (yes they are in second!) but all it takes is a race or two for McLaren to stumble and they'll be caught. The same applies to the Drivers' Championship.
What is going for McLaren though is a great start to the season that gives them a huge boost which will help them moving forward. This also puts less pressure on them to bring out their new car in a hurry unlike Ferrari whom must be feeling tremendous pressure to get their 2003 contender racing as soon as possible especially if they struggle at Imola.

The Brazilian Grand Prix, was simply a bizarre race, the one that we get to see once every few seasons. Given the circumstances, one cannot give reasons to why things happened the way they did apart from stating that the regulations concerning limiting the teams to a single wet weather tyre type is simply short sighted and dangerous.

All 6 teams that opted for full testing this season were testing at various tracks. At Paul Ricard, McLaren, Williams, BAR and Toyota were present with McLaren yet again setting the fastest times despite the mainly wet conditions. Ferrari were testing at Mugello with the 2003 car and at Fiorano with the F2002 while Sauber opted for a test session at Monza.

McLaren: They finished 2nd and 4th in Brazil. They are fast and reliable and are the main threat to Ferrari. Reliability 9/10 - Speed 9.0/10

Drivers: Kimi Raikkonen won the Brazilian GP while running second then the FIA decided that he did indeed finish second. Regardless, he drove a superb race at Interlagos and continues to prove that he a champion in the making. If the Michelins are good here don't discount a win. 

David Coulthard could have won the Brazilian GP if his pit stop was 2 laps later than scheduled. It wasn't meant to be and perhaps 4th was what he deserved. He need to match Raikkonen if he is to challenge for the championship. Podium possible but hard.

Renault: They didn't expect to be second in the championship after three races and they'll tell you that they don't expect to hold onto it. I agree that whilst they may not finish second this season, third is looking very good. All they really need is an engine that is as reliable but with a bit more power and they say it is coming in time for Monaco. In the meantime, they seem to have a superior braking system (in addition to their superior traction control) and that will help tremendously here. 
Reliability 9.5/10 - Speed 8.5/10

Drivers: Fernando Alonso is third in the championship and already with 2 podium finishes. It might be hard for him to repeat that in Imola but who thought he would do that in Brazil!. He appears to have recovered fully from his huge crash in Brazil and he's very young and so it probably won't affect him at all. Top 6 is likely. Podium if  another top team struggles.

Jarno Trulli once again finished in the points. He needs to push harder (plus some luck) if he is to match Alonso. A top 6 finish is possible.

Ferrari: They are under pressure to get results. Being equal third with Williams isn't acceptable for the World Champions and the apparent problems with the new car isn't helping. They'll be hoping that Bridgestone will preform better at Imola and if that is the case they could still dominate. 
Reliability 9.0/10 - Speed 9.0/10

Drivers: Michael Schumacher will be hoping to win at Ferrari's home GP in an effort to close the gap to the current championship leader Kimi Raikkonen. Not only will he need good rubber but also to drive as Michael used to drive - flawlessly. 

Rubens Barrichello yet again ran out of luck (and fuel) at his home race. One wonders what Rubens has to do to even finish a race there. Imola should be a different story and he could win.

Williams: They weren't strong n Brazil but that may be due to the conditions. So far though they haven't been strong this season and Imola could highlight that even more. Reliability 9/10 - Speed 8.5/10

Drivers: Juan Pablo Montoya spun out in Brazil after a superb first few laps. He needs to start finishing races if he is to compete at the top. A top 6 finish is likely.

Ralf Schumacher continues to be there when the others fall. That may be a good strategy to score points but it isn't the way to win championships. A top 8 finish is likely.

Jordan: They didn't expect to win in Brazil and had the race run to its entirety they would have more likely finished second or third. That is not to take away anything from Fisichella's superb drive. They are just not fast enough.
Reliability 6.5/10 - Speed 7.5/10

Drivers: Giancarlo Fisichella scored his first Formula 1 win in his career. I wonder how many more points he will score this season. Points at Imola will be hard.

Ralph Firman suffered a suspension failure that took him out as well as Olivier Panis in the Toyota. We haven't seen much from Firman that impresses but perhaps it is too early to judge him. It will be good for him to finish.

Sauber: Scored some more points in Brazil and that is good for the team. They usually have excellent reliability but so far they've had 2 retirements due to mechanical failure from 3 races and that isn't a good sign. Reliability 8.0/10 - Speed 8.0/10

Drivers: Heinz Harald Frentzen scored 4 points in Brazil and that was a good result. If Imola turns out to be a dry and clean race then Frentzen will find it hard to score points.

Nick Heidfeld suffered an engine problem in Brazil and that wasn't expected. Points will be hard to get at Imola.

BAR: Recent testing shows the Honda engine delivering power for a fair number of laps. The question is whether that will be the case during the race. 
Reliability 8.0/10 - Speed 8.0/10

Drivers: Jacques Villeneuve scored his first points of the season in Brazil. He drove what appeared to be a conservative race at the start but picked up the pace when the track started drying. The race stopped before he could prove much though. He has been strong in Imola and if his Honda engine lasts he could manage a point or two.

Jenson Button may have lost the slight edge he had over his team-mate by spinning off the track in Brazil. He needs to get over that quickly. A top 8 finish is possible but hard.

Jaguar: Thought they'd scored their first points of the season in Brazil only for the FIA to re-classify the race and end up with no points again. Their cars appeared reliable however the race didn't go the full distance.
Reliability 7.0/10 - Speed 7.5/10

Drivers: Mark Webber drove a good race until he spun. It is still unclear what caused his spin but he was lucky to get out of it unscathed. If the car is reliable, he may have a chance at challenging for 7th or 8th.

Antonio Pizzonia had yet another retirement. This time though it was his fault. There is talk already about a replacement and given Jaguar's history that isn't surprising. He needs to get his act together and pray for some luck here!.

Toyota: They have yet to prove they are getting competitive over a race distance. We've seen signs of brilliance but not any more.
Reliability 8/10 - Speed 7.5/10

Drivers: Olivier Panis is certainly the unluckiest driver so far this season. Three retirements none of which were of his own making. Perhaps Imola will be a turning point. Still points will be hard!.

Cristiano da Matta is finishing races but isn't fast. Is that due to himself or his car ? Probably a bit of both. He'll probably finish outside the points.

Minardi: The events in Brazil should have given Minardi an excellent chance of scoring points yet both of their drivers spin out. Must have been very disappointing for Paul Stoddart.  
Reliability 7.5/10 - Speed 7.0/10

Drivers: Jos Verstappen is know to be good in the wet. Spinning out must have been embarrassing. He'll need to work very hard to make that up. In a Minardi it may be impossible. A finish outside the points is likely

Justin Wilson would have been excused for his spin given his lack of experience. Unlike Webber and Alonso, Wilson is competing with a strong driver and he'll have to work real hard to impress other teams if he is to progress his career. A finish outside the points is likely

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