News and views on motorsports

Sunday, May 29, 2005

European GP: Thoughts On The Race

I think Ferrari will mount a strong challenge for today's Grand Prix Of Europe. Their Bridgestone tyres may have been identified as the culprit for their poor qualifying performance but in the race especially around half distance, those tyres start to give their best. This has been the case since Imola. Despite only having a single qualifying session from this race onwards, the status quo remains the same.

Nevertheless, given the space available to cars to overtake and given the Ferraris' stunning mid race pace, picking off slow cars would be child's play to the Ferrari duo. Its going to be interesting to see now that Barrichello has thrown the gauntlet to Michael, if the two Ferraris will have a no holds barred race against one another. Whatever it is, Ross Brawn seems very confident. I would be too if I were him. I think at least second on the podium is on the cards for at least one of the two Maranello machines, if things go their way.

The only people with any hope against the scarlet machines are the McLarens of Montoya and Raikkonen. Especially Raikkonen. If he doesn't get held up by Nick Heidfeld at the start of the race then I think this race can be his. Otherwise if he gets delayed, he'll have the Ferraris to contend with. Not to say that he couldn't fend off the attentions of any Ferrari challenge but he'll have a difficult time. Nevertheless the McLaren is also quick and Kimi has been in the habit of slowing down after pulling a huge lead in the last few races, we haven't really seen just how fast it can be. According to Kimi, he could go quicker. Maybe in today's race he'll have to prove it. As for tyres, I think McLaren can be comfortable that their cars will use the tyres very well once again and can withstand a race long punishment by the drivers.

What of early season favourite Renault? Now there's a mystery. We can be reasonably sure of the performance of the McLarens and the Ferraris but after seeing how the Renault devoured its tyres for Monaco, it remains to be seen whether the Renaults can sustain a race long flat out pace. They're going to need to. Barrichello qualified right behind Fernando Alonso, whilst Michael qualified right behind Fisichella. There are suspicions that the Renaults are also heavily fueled. I wonder if thats a good idea. I'm not sure why Renault's tyres went off so dramatically in Monaco and to a lesser extent in Spain but at least in Monaco I think heavy running probably had something to do with it. Michelin boss Pierre Duspasquier was very critical of the Enstone based team after Monaco but specific reasons for their incredible tyre wear rate has not been fully explained publicly.

As for pole man Nick Heidfeld and team mate Mark Webber, third on the grid, I think everyone suspects their running a light fuel load. If so, they'll really need to use their pace at the start of the race to pull away from everyone else. If qualifying is any guage then they'll be at least a second faster than the pack at the start. But thats just naive speculation on my part. But I suspect Kimi Raikkonen isn't running light at all but nevertheless he's showing very good pace, nearly taking pole yesterday. If the Williamses don't delay him then he's practically got the race in the bag.

The only spoilers in this whole bunch are the ever present Toyota team. Jarno Trulli qualified in fourth ahead of Montoya. Hard to tell these Toyotas. For most of the races this year, they've qualified reasonably well but often faded in the race. Despite Mike Gascoyne promising developments to take them up a higher gear it hasn't materialised. I would have thought they'd do better at the Nurburgring as they seem to do well on Tilke tracks like Malaysia and Bahrain.

This just in: Rain is expected for the race. This should play even further to Ferrari hands. Bugger. If it remains abnormally hot as it had in the last few days, we could have seen a meltdown in those Bridgestones per Bahrain. If its Imola like, then they'll really turn on the speed. Hopefully the rain gods will delay the downpour.

1 comment:

cccp said...

read my pre-race post here. i don't quite agree that rain will help ferrari. it's known that the bridgestones intermediate is very good, but we have no idea how good the michelin have improved. we might be surprised. btw, great blog!