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With the pit straight being the
only obvious place to overtake Circuit de Catalunya (Barcelona, Spain) is
a track that threatens processional racing and pit lane passing.
is not a fast circuit. Even with the higher speeds that this year’s
tyres are bringing to most circuits, I will be surprised to see lap speeds
exceed an average of 210km/H(130mph) during the race although it is
anybody’s guess how fast they will be in qualifying.
is definitely not a circuit to lend itself to overtaking. With the
exception of the pit straight, which is by far the longest straight bit of
this track, there is no obvious sections where we can expect to see any
overtaking other than some overtaking of back markers.
overtaking will be difficult, qualifying will be even more crucial and we
can expect to see all teams throw just that little more at the qualifying
stint. Pit stops will also get a lot of attention as this is not the
circuit to try and make up lost positions after a poor stop.
year Michael Schumacher dropped out of podium contention after leading the
race for 42 laps – all lost in a bad pit stop and then suffering low
pressure in one of his tyres forcing him to stop for a 3rd
time. Schumacher could have easily have won the race had it not been for
factors beyond his control.
may have a definite horsepower advantage this season and although there
are several circuits later in the year where they will be able to exploit
this, it is not a major advantage in Barcelona. This is not a top speed
circuit needs a nimble chassis that takes care of tyres. There are four
corners that will be negotiated slower than 130km/H(80mph) so we will see
all of the leading teams using a lot of wing to maintain downforce at
lower speeds. That will be compromised by the need for less downforce on
the main straight where the cars reach a top speed of 310km/H(195mph).
we have not seen Williams in a similar situation so far this season (but
then San Marino was not exactly a fast track), they have always built very
good chassis so we must assume that they will be very competitive. Ralf
Schumacher has won his first F1 race at San Marino and, if we look at
other drivers in the past, this almost always means that he will be more
confident and determined to win. Montoya also has the ability to win if he
can shake off the spate of bad luck that has retired him so far this year.
year Barcelona was the first win for Hakkinen. If my theory is true and it
takes Hakkinen this long every season to come to terms with his car, he
may well win this race again. Coulthard, on the other hand, will also be
acutely aware of that, if he wants to win his first championship, it is
essential to maintain his lead over Hakkinen (as well as the other drivers
of course) so that, when team orders are invoked at McLaren it is his turn
to get the number one driver treatment.
are getting faster and it was not long ago that they were the dominant
team. They were very fast at Silverstone last week and can never be
on the other hand, are an unknown quantity. Their last two races were
plagued by wrong tyre choices and bad car set-up so it has been impossible
to gauge their progress. It is hard to imagine that they have lost their
ability to set up for races and exploit race circumstances, so I expect
Michael Schumacher to be back with a vengeance providing that his car has
improved over the last month. Schumacher will be anxious to maintain his
lead in the championship as well as prove the many doubters (myself
included) that their recent problems were temporary and that Ferrari are
still on top.
if Ferrari overcomes the problems that they had in the last two races, I
still believe that Rubens Barrichello is unlikely to do better than 4th
or 5th unless several of the faster drivers retire. Both
Williams and McLaren drivers appear faster than Barrichello, who seems to
be struggling for his second season in Ferrari.
one can never discount the determination and ability of Honda, it seems
that they have not managed to stay in touch with the meteoric rise of BMW.
Jordan has so far this season managed to fare better than BAR and
definitely look as if they have a better chassis, which makes me suspect
that they will be considerably faster than BAR. This will however mean
that they can expect to finish in the points only if one or more of the
leading drivers retires, or drops back substantially.
then I do not believe that BAR will finish immediately behind Jordan.
BAR’s chassis does not impress me. They seem to understeer at the drop
of a hat and on a circuit where turn in will be essential for fast lap
times; I do not rate their chances high. Sauber have a far better chassis
and it is conceivable that they would qualify better than BAR, even though
they do not have as much power as BAR.
are too far down on power to be able to take advantage of this circuit but
I expect to see them much more competitive than they have been so far this
season. Both Fisichella and Button are very good and the little that we
have seen of this team in the season indicates that Benetton, like always,
have a very good chassis. Even so I do not expect to see them finish in
front of BAR or Sauber.
is powered by the same factory Ferrari engine as Sauber, but that is where
the similarity ends. Sauber are doing reasonably well with the old Ferrari
engine while Prost are still nothing short of pathetic.
drivers at Jaguar is unlikely to make a difference. The car seems totally
lacklustre and although they may not have the top drivers I do not think
that their problems has anything to do with their drivers. They would be
far better off starting with the cars. To do well in a F1 race one needs a
are also struggling with a car that is down on power. The balance and
roadholding of the car seems very good, especially in the rain where power
is hard to apply.
is Minardi. Destined to train drivers at the back of the pack.
Schumacher needs to win to demonstrate his and Ferrari’s superiority.
His brother Ralf wants to win to show that San Marino was not a flash in
the pan and Williams has the best car. Montoya will want to win to show
that his decision to move to F1 was valid, and also to make sure that Ralf
does not get too far ahead in status in the Williams team. Coulthard wants
to win to move ahead in the championship and to increase the gap between
him and Hakkinen. Hakkinen has to make a move soon if he wants to have any
chance of making the championship.
of them have a chance and the motivation.
is unlikely that any will do well if they do not qualify well. Qualifying
will be brutal and the race could prove to be very exciting.
Agree or disagree ?