Only four races remain in 2003 after what has been an exciting and closely fought season. Hungary, Monza, Indianapolis and Suzuka are the last circuits on the calendar and many people think the championship will go right to the final race. Juan ...
Only four races remain in 2003 after what has been an exciting and closely fought season. Hungary, Monza, Indianapolis and Suzuka are the last circuits on the calendar and many people think the championship will go right to the final race. Juan Pablo Montoya is currently six points behind Michael Schumacher, and Williams two points behind Ferrari, but can Williams take advantage at the remaining tracks?
"The Bridgestone tyres of our rivals don't heat up as good as our Michelins do -- that is a disadvantage on a stop and go circuit like the Hungaroring. In Hockenheim our tyre advantage amounted to approximately one second. Otherwise the Hungaroring is a driver circuit like Monaco, and the race in the principality was won by Juan Pablo."
Montoya set the fastest ever qualifying lap at Monza last year with the BMW engine revving at over 19,000 rpm but unfortunately neither he or teammate Ralf Schumacher finished the race. Thiessen is confident of the engine reliability this time.
"Monza with its long straights is suiting us," he said. "Our BMW P83 engine has been a paragon of reliability, so it should be able to stand this endurance test too. Although our cooling inlets in Hockenheim were rather small -- compared to those of our competitors -- for aerodynamic reasons, the engine temperatures never exceeded our limit."
Indianapolis should be a competitive circuit for Williams: "On the one hand Indianapolis is offering the longest flat out section in the F1 calendar. The engines will be running flat out for 23 seconds while the cars are racing the banked corner and the long straight. On the other hand you've got the twisted infield section. So you have to find a good set-up compromise. The long flat out section is very demanding for the engine but we should be forearmed for this challenge."
The final circuit, Suzuka, is a challenging one. Theissen expects the title fight to go right to the end and for Suzuka he will be hoping for good weather, whereas Schumacher, he jokes, will be hoping for the opposite. "It will be a close battle on to the very end", he said. "I'm sure that both championship won't be decided until Japan."
"Suzuka is a very fast and challenging circuit, similar to Spa, and offers many changes of direction. A fact that should be suiting Juan Pablo's style of driving well. Concerning the power output BMW is well prepared for Suzuka. But like always there is of course one element of uncertainty: the weather. Together with Michael Schumacher we are going to church every two weeks. But while we are praying for good weather he is praying for rain."