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2005 Formula 1 European Grand Prix
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Track Layout (from the FIA)

McLaren have the edge!

There were signs as far back as Bahrain that McLaren are quick in race trim. At Imola Raikkonen led but reliability put him out of the race. At Spain then at Monaco he dominated with no serious competition from Alonso in the Renault. 
McLaren now have the edge but for how long? Renault had a major aero upgrade on the car at Monaco but the real effects of it will show at the Nurburgring, Williams surprised many by finishing both cars on the podium. Ferrari set the fastest lap time of the race, Toyota were stronger than expected and BAR will be back from their forced break and they will be determined to make an impression.
Kimi Raikkonen - McLaren Mercedes MP4/20 - 2005

Last year Michael Schumacher dominated the race after starting from Pole. This time it will be hard for Michael to start from Pole given the Bridgestone's poor performance in qualifying. The McLaren pair would be strong and so will Renault, BAR and possibly Toyota and Williams. 

The Nurburgring track is a high downforce tracks offering a mixture of corners from the very slow hairpins to the very fast S bend. The track offers two overtaking opportunities, the first into the first corner and one into the last chicane. 
Cars need to have good traction out of the corners and good chassis balance and stability under braking to achieve a good lap time.
Tyre wear rate is high due to the abrasive nature of the track and both tyre suppliers will bring tyres of the harder compound.
Of course weather can play a role in the outcome of this event being situated close to the Eifel Mountains. Early weather forecasts predict thunderstorms on both Saturday and Sunday!

A reminder that this race will be the first with the modified qualifying system. There will be only one single lap session on Saturday run with race fuel. The order by which the drivers go out will be in reverse order of the finishing order from the previous race. (Winner goes out last)

Here is a team by team review:

Renault: Struggled at Monaco with rear tyre wear which is surprising given that traditionally they have been gentle on tyres. The extra fuel load they put it when the safety car was out may have contributed to the problem. In Spain their tyres suffered from blistering but came back later in the race. 
Don't expect their tyre wear to be severe here. We'll also get a better picture of their aero upgrade here.
Reliability 8.5/10 - Speed 9.5/10 (Latest Renault Team News)

Drivers: Fernando Alonso managed to finish 4th in Monaco despite having worn tyres for the last part of the race. That was an achievement and Alonso continues to show skill and maturity. He may not match the McLaren's here but he'll extract the most out of his car. A win will be difficult but remains a possibility. 

Giancarlo Fisichella struggled with his car in Monaco more than Alonso. He described his race as probably the most difficult of his life!. It must be especially hard on Fisichella as he was expected to at least match Alonso and he hasn't been able to do that. Points likely at the Nurburgring.

McLaren: They've taken second place from Toyota and are now just 12 points behind Renault. They go into this race as the team to beat. We could see a McLaren 1-2 however reliability could still be an issue.
Reliability 9.0/10 - Speed 9.5/10 (Latest McLaren Mercedes Team News)

Drivers: Kimi Raikkonen is on a high after dominating the last 2 races. He can make it 3 in a row here. His main competition could come from his team-mate though.

Juan Pablo Montoya finished 5th at Monaco despite starting from the back. He shouldn't be too disadvantaged in qualifying and could give Raikkonen a tough fight. A podium finish likely. 

Toyota: Weren't slow in Monaco which was going to be a tough circuit for them. They'll be strong at the Nurburgring and could challenge the other top teams.  
Reliability 9.5/10 - Speed 9.0/10 (Latest Toyota Team News)

Drivers: Jarno Trulli could have finished in 5th after passing Fisichella however suspected damage to the car as a result of that overtaking manoeuvre forced him to pit and he ended up outside the points. He'll bounce back here with a strong points finish.

Ralf Schumacher had a good race in Monaco finishing 6th despite starting from the back. Finishing ahead of Trulli would also give him a boost. He could finish ahead of Trulli at home.

Williams: Take 4th place from Ferrari after a strong 2-3 finish in Monaco. They had a good car in Monaco but it remains to be seen whether they will be strong at other tracks as well. The competition is tough but it would be good to see Williams back up at or near the top. It is more likely to take them a few more races though. 
Reliability 9.0/10 - Speed 9.0/10 (Latest Williams BMW Team News)

Drivers: Mark Webber finished 3rd at Monaco (his best in F1 so far) but wasn't happy with the team's decision to pit Heidfeld first at the second stop. All things considered, there wasn't much between the two and Heidfeld seems to have lucked out as he was scheduled to pit first. Expect a strong race from Webber here. Points likely, podium difficult.

Nick Heidfeld took 2nd at Monaco and that wasn't expected either. He'll be hard to beat at his home track. Points likely but a podium will be difficult.

Ferrari: Drop back to 5th after a poor race in Monaco. They finished 7th and 8th after Villeneuve took himself and his team-mate out of contention. They are seriously struggling in qualifying due to the tyres and that will take some time to fix. Expect them to go heavy and try to stay out as long as possible and make up ground that way. 
Reliability 9.0/10 - Speed 9.5/10  (Latest Ferrari Team News)

Drivers: Michael Schumacher struggled in Monaco in qualifying and in the race after running into the back of Coulthard when Albers spun. He managed to recover and finish in 7th passing Barrichello on the last lap. He'll again struggle in qualifying but if he can keep in touch with the leaders he could have a chance. A win is unlikely though. 

Rubens Barrichello is struggling more than Michael and that shows in qualifying. He could finish in the points but don't expect a podium. 

Red Bull: Failed to score points at Monaco although Coulthard may have had he not been hit by Michael. They'll struggle from now on to score points as the competition heats up at the front and BAR Honda returns.
Reliability 8.5/10 - Speed 8.0/10 (Latest Red Bull Racing Team News)

Drivers: David Coulthard looked strong in Monaco but was forced to retire. He'll try his best but don't expect points.

Vitantonio Liuzzi will race at the Nurburgring before Klien takes over at Montreal. Why delay Klien ? Liuzzi was given his chance and clearly didn't deliver so why is he racing this weekend ? Don't expect much.

Sauber: Had what looked to be a great result robbed from them due to an ambitious move by their own driver Jacques Villeneuve. Like Red Bull, points will be difficult to score from here onwards making Villeneuve's move all the more painful. 
Reliability 8.0/10 - Speed 8.5/10 (Latest Sauber Team News)

Drivers: Jacques Villeneuve made an unthinkable move on his own team-mate losing them both the chance of finishing ahead of the 2 Ferraris. I wonder if he could make it up with Peter Sauber. Another poor performance at the Nurburgring and I suspect he'll struggle to stay with the team.

Felipe Massa could have finished in the points but thanks to his team-mate ended up 9th. Points will be very difficult here but he won't give up.

Jordan: They struggled in Monaco. Obviously their car lacks mechanical grip. They'll be back ahead of Minardi at the Nurburgring. 
Reliability 8.5/10 - Speed 7.0/10 (Latest Jordan Team News)

Drivers: Narain Karthikeyan had a poor race at Monaco. He struggled all weekend and managed to have a brush with the wall very early into the race. That would be a set back in his F1 career but he could recover from it by doing well at other tracks. Expect him to bounce back here.

Tiago Monteiro is one of the few drivers who have finished every race this season. Did well finishing in Monaco and handled the event better than his team-mate. Expect him to be behind his team-mate here though.

BAR: They have a steep mountain to climb to move up in the championship and they will get there. The improvements they made before they were banned were impressive. The have the potential of winning the European Grand Prix.
Reliability 8.5/10 - Speed 9.5/10 (Latest BAR Team News)

Drivers: Jenson Button is hungry to return to racing. He'll strong and could win this race!

Takuma Sato last year out-qualified his team-mate here so he will be strong too. Points and even podium likely. 

Minardi: They seem to have sorted out the reliability of their new car. They beat Jordan in Monaco but doubt they will do so again here.
Reliability 7.0/10 - Speed 7.0/10 (Latest Minardi Team News)

Drivers: Christijan Albers finished in Monaco despite spinning and causing a safety car condition. He didn't appear as comfortable in Monaco as his team-mate but he finished!

Patrick Freisacher impressed in Monaco until he crashed out. He'll have an interesting fight with Albers!. 

Bridgestone News - Michelin News

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1st Friday Practice - 11:00ResultsReportResults
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