APRIL 30, 2003
SPANISH GP - PREVIEW
One would like to say that there is nothing very predictable about the Spanish Grand Prix but even if Ferrari is bringing out the new F2003 GA it is unlikely that the new car will have any reliability problems, having already been through a series of race distance tests on the Ferrari test tracks. The new car is said to be a considerable improvement on the old one and so it is fair to say based on what happened in Imola that we should see the two Ferraris at the front of the grid. Tyres may be an issue but the fact is that Barcelona is where most of the teams do most of their testing and so there should be fewer question marks at the Circuit de Catalunya than at other circuits on the F1 calendar. Traditionally (at least in recent years) the Spanish race has been one of the dullest of the year. But you never know...
McLaren and Williams will provide the supporting cast as usual and judging by the performance of the two teams at recent events they will be pretty closely matched while once again Jaguar is expected to be sniffing around at their heels. Much interest will be focussed on the green team as Antonio Pizzonia has been told that his career is on the bubble if he does not get some decent results on the board. Pizzonia has had most of the team's bad luck this year - with a series of engine problems - but he has still failed to make the most of the car when it has been running well. Mark Webber is pretty relaxed about his new-found success but wants to turn the promise into World Championship points because the name Webber is still down near the bottom on the points table and has a big round zero next to the total of points this year.
Other cars which have shown the potential to score points this year have been the BAR-Hondas and the Toyotas, while the Saubers and Renaults must also be taken into consideration. Barcelona is a track where a car with good aerodynamics should show well so expect to see Fernando Alonso, the local hero, making headlines. It is doubtful given the problems with the Renault engine, that Alonso can hope for anything better than a podium finish but it will be worth watching to see if he can achieve this.
The F1 season is still to really settle into a sensible pattern this year and there are many who feel that the pattern that will emerge is further Ferrari domination. There is still a long way to go before the team catches back the advantage gained in the early races by McLaren but one would expect to see further inroads being made in Spain.