The Belgian Grand Prix Preview 08 Sep 2005
Why Raikkonen has it all to do at Spa-Francorchamps
If Fernando Alonso scores four - even three - more points than Kimi Raikkonen this weekend, the Spaniard could clinch the world championship with three races to go.
He is 27 points ahead. Three would extend his lead to 30, and with 30 points left to score in Brazil, Japan and China, Raikkonen could then only match him if he won all of the remaining races and Alonso failed to finish any of them. If that were to happen, and it is unlikely, the Finn would win on greater number of victories.
I refuse even to talk about this, Renault team principal Flavio Briatore says. Its not over yet. Maybe Fernando can finish second in the championship; thats the best I am prepared to say right now.
For sure the pressure is on Renault, especially as McLaren are closing in the constructors championship. They took their only race win here last year with the MP4-19, and the MP4-20 is much better and can be expected to set the pace. Both teams are at what Ron Dennis once called maximum ramming speed, in an allusion to the old days of Romans ramming other ships. Renault have 144 points; McLaren 136. There are other dramas unfolding here, too, as Montoyas 50 points have brought him within five of Michael Schumacher for third place, while Giancarlo Fisichella has 41 to Jarno Trullis 43 in the fight for fifth.
One thing that may cause an upset is the likelihood that we could have the first wet race of the season. There is a 60 percent chance of rain on Sunday. But just in case that might suggest a Bridgestone walkover, a Ferrari insider admitted that he did not expect Spa to be any better for Ferrari regardless of the weather. If it is dry, we will be worse than Monza, he said after that race. There are more corners at Spa, so of course it will be worse! Michelin, meanwhile, are quietly confident about their rain tyres.
There is another good fight going on in the constructors table, as Toyota hound Ferrari for third place. The German-based Japanese team are currently only eight points behind, 78 to 86 and have scored 13 more points than the Scuderia in the last three races.
Meanwhile, with engine and aero upgrades scheduled for Spa, BAR are hoping to come back from their Italian disappointment and to close up on Red Bull for sixth place in the constructors stakes. They are only two points apart, 27 to 25, and BAR hope to challenge Renault again. Red Bull will yet again run Christian Klien as David Coulthards partner, leaving Vitantonio Liuzzi to Friday test duties.
At Williams it has been confirmed that Antonio Pizzonia will again race in Nick Heidfelds place as the German has been advised not to run following the headaches he complained of in Monza after a test crash the previous week. The Brazilian was very quick at Spa last year and the team come to this years event with some rear-end aero tweaks for the FW27.
Sauber, Jordan and Minardi will all run largely unchanged apart from maximum downforce packages, given the time constraints of back-to-back races. However, Jordan will have both race drivers in the new EJ15B for Spa and the team have recently announced that Anthony Davidson will test and may be in line for a drive next year. The much-talked-about future of Minardi may also become clearer during the course of the weekend.