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 2000 European GP News
19 - 21 May 2000  

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Practice 1
- Practice 2

Practice 1 - Practice 2  Qualifying


Drivers Championship Constructors Championship
European GP Practice timed results
European GP Qualifying and Race  timed results

European Grand Prix Preview

Will McLaren pass Ferrari in the Constructors championship or will Ferrari regain momentum ?

Last year, no one would have expected Johnny Herbert in the Stewart to win the European Grand Prix. That race was full of surprises, from weather to accidents and spins to failed pit stops. We could see a repeat this weekend.

Weather is unpredictable at the Nurburgring and what makes it even more challenging for the drivers and teams is that the circuit could be wet in one place and dry in another. As usual, if it rains it could be anyone's race as we saw last year. If it doesn't, then it will be either a Ferrari or a McLaren with a Williams with a shot if Ferrari and McLaren struggle.

On the drivers front, Michael Schumacher will need to win even though he still has a massive gap to Mika Hakkinen because that gap can so easily shrink to just 4 points if Mika wins and Michael does not finish in the points. As for the teams, McLaren are only 7 points behind and another 1-2 finish will put them ahead. Who would have expected that prior to the British GP. Things could change so quickly in Formula 1.

McLaren: They scored the second 1-2 finish in a row so they clearly have regained their confidence. Their cars appear very reliable and under race conditions, they were clearly faster than Ferrari. Mika Hakkinen has finally managed to win a race (and convincingly) while David Coulthard was equally if not more impressive finishing second given his plane crash accident a few days before the race. Either one could win as Mika Hakkinen will have regained confidence in his driving and in the car and David Coulthard will have recovered (somewhat) from his plane crash which could make him even more determined.

Ferrari: For the second race in a row Ferrari struggle, this time it was the lollipop man which shows how dependant Formula 1 racing has become on the pit crew. The lollipop man gave the all clear just a fraction of a second too early and the Michael Schumacher's Ferrari hit the refuelling guy as he was removing the refuelling hose from the car. The team struggled with their next pit stops as they had to get replacement refueller mid race. Let us hope that a similar situation won't happen again as we would like to see races won on the track but this will certainly affect the performance of the Ferrari team particularly in the pits. Michael Schumacher will again dominate and will challenge both McLaren's for pole and winning the race. His chances depend though on how close the Ferrari is to the McLaren at this track. Rubens Barrichello on the other hand appears to be struggling with the setup of his car and he certainly needs to get his act together sooner than later unless he wants to be remembered as another Michael Schumacher team-mate. His overtaking manoeuvre on both Ralf and Michael Schumacher at Spain was superb though. If his car doesn't fail, a top 4 finish is a big possibility.

Jordan: They appear to be going backward, in reality it is the other teams who are catching up, specifically Williams who appear to be far better and BAR with Villeneuve outqualifying both cars in Spain. They were reliable in Spain so we could start to see some improvement in performance but it usually takes a few races to see significant performance improvements. Heinz Harald Frentzen and Jarno Trulli appear to be very close even though Frentzen has a slight edge at the moment. A top 6 finish is possible for both cars but a top 10 is more realistic.

Jaguar: They appear to be reliable as they have finished both cars in the last 2 races but they are slow, very slow. They are in a similar situation to Jordan but a bit further back in the field. I don't expect them to do much better here. Eddie Irvine will again have the upper hand over Johnny Herbert but they will be very happy if they manage a top 10 finish.

Williams: They are the dark horse of the 2000 season so far. The Williams chassis is brilliant, the BMW engine appears powerful and more reliable than anyone expected, Ralf Schumacher is superb and Jenson Button has raised a few eyebrows. If they continue at this pace, they will be knocking at the doors of Ferrari and McLaren before the end of the season and that will just make everything even more exciting. Ralf Schumacher will continue to have the upper hand over his Jenson Button and will be waiting for any mistake by the top 2 teams to squeeze into the top 4. Jenson Button needs to be as close as he can to Ralf Schumacher otherwise we could Juan Pablo Montoya in his place next year.

Benetton: The few points that the team collected early in the season were mainly due to the other teams failing, since Brazil, they have struggled reminding us of last year. Even though Renault now owns the team, we all know that the effect of that will not show until next year at least so they simply won't shape and they will be very happy with a top 10 finish. Giancarlo Fisichella is clearly ahead of Alexander Wurz who could be out of the team sooner than later. When Benetton issue a statement indicating that the driver line-up will not change at the European Grand Prix, is that an indication that it could change afterwards ?. If Wurz doesn't perform then expect that to happen.

Sauber: They were close to scoring a point in Spain. They could do it here as they appear to be at the front end of the middle of the pack mixing it with Jordan and BAR. Expect the same with a top 10, possible even a top 6.

Prost: Another team that appear to have the reliability sorted out but without the performance. That will continue and they will be racing alongside Jaguar and Benetton. Jean Alesi went out last race on the 1st lap when he and de la Rosa crashed out while Nick Heidfeld managed to finish although 3 laps down. We still have not seen how well those two can be in a good car. Let us hope that we will see that sometime soon.

Arrows: Once again, they did not perform as expected at Spain. Pedro de la Rosa had an excellent qualifying position only to be stripped of that position due to a fuel irregularity. I would place them behind Jordan, BAR and Sauber so a top 10 finish is not impossible but will be hard fought. Jos Verstappen and Pedro de la Rosa appear to be evenly matched and hopefully they have the fitness issue sorted out by now.

Minardi: They used the new titanium gearbox on Gaston Mazzacane's car in Spain and the car finished the race but behind team-mate Marc Gene (both 2 laps down). They are introducing a new specification engine which should improve their performance but I doubt that it will be enough to move them ahead of any other team. The team is also struggling with sponsors so that will have an effect on the team. Marc Gene clearly has potential and he might be snatched up by another team next year. Gaston Mazzacane has shown that he is better than what most people expected, still any position higher than the last 2 will be a bonus.

BAR: Jacques Villeneuve has been doing amazing things in the BAR but for how long will he wait until he has a car capable of winning. Time is running out for BAR if they are to retain Villeneuve, a move to McLaren, Benetton or Jaguar is on the cards. The Honda engine appears to be delivering the performance but the chassis is not as good. Improvements are expected at this race and we could see BAR challenge Williams although that is unlikely. It is more likely that they will be fighting with Jordan and Sauber. Jacques Villeneuve will again qualify well and if his car lasts he could finish in the points. Ricardo Zonta has been have problems in qualifying but his race results are encouraging. A top 10 finish is very possible.

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