F1

Can Ferrari take the title in Germany?

Can Ferrari take the title in Germany?

At this weekend's German Grand Prix, Ferrari could win the constructors' championship with a one-two finish. Given the team's form this season it seems inevitable the title will fall to the Scuderia, whether it be this weekend or a little...

At this weekend's German Grand Prix, Ferrari could win the constructors' championship with a one-two finish. Given the team's form this season it seems inevitable the title will fall to the Scuderia, whether it be this weekend or a little further down the road. Even Michael Schumacher said it would be hard to avoid winning the constructors' crown. It's not surprising; Ferrari's superiority this year and the lack of consistent competition from rivals makes it fairly predictable.

Rubens Barrichello and Michael Schumacher.
Photo by Ferrari Media Center.

Ferrari is nearly 100 points clear of second placed Renault in the standings. The extremely unlikely scenario of Renault scoring a one-two at every race for the rest of the season and Ferrari not scoring at all is just about what Renault would need to win. Anyone care to take a bet on that happening?

Schumacher himself seems destined for his seventh world championship, although he will have to work a little harder just yet before he claims the crown again. His closest rival is his own teammate, 26 points down. Does anyone honestly believe that Rubens Barrichello can whip the title out from under Michael's nose? Okay, Ferrari and Schumacher have not won yet but it's surely only a matter of time.

"I am sure that Hockenheim will be particularly interesting, above all because Ferrari could win the Constructors' title if the results go our way," said Schumacher. "Still, we don't feel any more pressure because of this; this year we are so strong as a team that a lot would have to happen for us to lose the title. If it won't happen this week, it'll happen sometime soon."

Other teams have been closing the gap to Ferrari's performance on track but they don't have the complete package. Schumacher started from fourth at Silverstone and took the lead from pole man Kimi Raikkonen at the first pit stop. Rubens Barrichello also benefited from Ferrari's strategy, leapfrogging Jenson Button in the pit stops for third. Others might be faster, or perform better, but no one can beat the Scuderia's strategy.

McLaren finally got it together in Britain and Raikkonen's pole position was an amazing performance. The win was perhaps a little too much to ask for but the Finn's second place was by no means bad given McLaren's previous efforts this season.

Kimi Raikkonen.
Photo by DaimlerChrysler.
"The result at Silverstone and the pace of the MP4-19B during the weekend was very positive for the whole team," said Raikkonen. "I felt competitive all weekend and am looking forward to taking this form to Germany and the Mercedes-Benz home support."

BAR couldn't keep up with Ferrari in the race and Button was denied a podium at his home event, despite starting third. Williams was practically unnoticeable. Renault was on the ball initially, Jarno Trulli and Fernando Alonso qualifying fifth and sixth, but it came to nothing. Alsono suffered a grid demotion to 16th after Renault's first engine failure of the season, which effectively ruined his race. Trulli was running in the points until he crashed out hugely -- but was thankfully unharmed.

There's competition out there but not on a regular basis. "We have seen a number of teams challenging Ferrari this season, including ourselves, but nobody has been unable to do so consistently," said Renault technical director Bob Bell. "That no doubt reflects the fact that while we, and our direct competitors, have particular strengths, Ferrari have achieved an extremely high standard in every area of vehicle performance."

The Hockenheim circuit, to many, is a shadow of its former self. Redesigned in 2002, the track was shortened and lost its marvelous long straights through the forests. It's no longer the power circuit it once was but it's still one of the more challenging tracks in terms of engine performance. 63% of the lap is at full throttle and the longest time at such is nearly 15 seconds.

The mixture of low and medium speed corners requires good traction and fairly high donwforce is the norm. There's more overtaking opportunities than most circuits, the best of which is after the long straight down to the hairpin at turn two. The track surface has high grip and blistering tyres can be a problem, especially at the rear.

Aside from Schumacher, the German GP is the home race for Jordan's Nick Heidfeld and, along with Hungary, it's the nearest Jaguar's Austrian driver Christian Klien will get to a home event now the A1-Ring is off the calendar. For rookie Klien, Hockenheim is one of the tracks he's familiar with.

Christian Klien.
Photo by Jaguar Cars and Wieck Media Services, Inc..
"Hockenheim is a circuit that I know really well and one that I can thank for providing me with a podium during all my races there," he said. "I have been there with Formula BMW, Formula Renault and F3 and I get as much satisfaction every time I drive there as the first time I crossed the finish line."

McLaren partner Mercedes is also at home at Hockenheim, as is Williams partner BMW. It's a big event for Toyota, which has its headquarters in Cologne, as the team is debuting the revised TF104B this weekend.

"The German Grand Prix will be something of a test session for us, as we establish a baseline of the TF104B's potential," said technical director Mike Gascoyne. "The car has an upgraded aero package, as well as a substantially repackaged chassis with lower weight and centre of gravity. The debut of the TF104B now marks the start of a renewed development process for Toyota which will take us to the last race of the season in Brazil."

So will it be one title down, one to go after Germany? It's entirely possible but Hockenheim is a circuit that should suit Ferrari's rivals. However, that's not to say it won't suit Ferrari too. Schumacher may not have had the best of results at the track in the past but you can be sure he'll be looking to make amends this weekend.

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