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APRIL 20, 2004

Winning the PR war

The Formula 1 teams all go to Imola having made improvements in their cars and while there has been a lot of coverage for Renault and BAR this does not mean that they will have made the biggest improvement. Based on testing mileage Ferrari has as usual had more opportunity to increase its advantage as it has been testing almost non-stop. Williams too has done a lot of work and at Imola the cars are generally more competitive than at some of the early season races. Much will depend on the temperatures over the weekend as Bahrain showed that in low temperatures Ferrari had a clear tyre advantage over Bridgestone. Imola is unlikely to be very warm and so on paper at least one must expect to see Ferrari remaining ahead. The nature of the Imola track should give Williams and BAR an advantage over Renault and Jaguar because there is very little in the way of high-speed corners. If however Renault has improved the point-and-squirt nature of its car then it could be in the hunt although the drivers will need to avoid incidents in qualifying, which has been the team's biggest disadvantage so far this year in qualifying. In race trim the cars have been quick.

Although critics are saying that the F1 season is done and dusted this year, it will only take one decent result from a rival to change the whole picture because F1 nowadays is more about the image of what is happening than what is actually happening.