Fernando Alonso may have seemed unstoppable in the first races of the season, but Kimi Räikkönën's back-to-back wins at Catalunya and Monaco indicate that the MP4-20 could be in devastating form again at this weekend's European Grand Prix.
Fernando Alonso may have seemed unstoppable in the first races of the season, but Kimi Raikkönën's back-to-back wins at Catalunya and Monaco indicate that the MP4-20 could be in devastating form again at this weekend's European Grand Prix.
The condensed 5km Nürburgring circuit provides the scene for a revised qualifying format. The two sessions spread over Saturday and Sunday will now be completed in just one session on Saturday afternoon.
The championship leader, Renault's Fernando Alonso said: "It is good to know the qualifying positions from Saturday onwards, so that is definitely an improvement. But on the other hand, we have to rely on the previous race position for our starting slot -- which means you will be punished for a bad result with an early qualifying position at the next race."
Alonso had to concede a second straight victory to Räikkönen in Monaco after the Renault experienced tyre wear. It was a fantastic race for the McLaren Mercedes team as the Finn led from the start to take an untroubled win while his team-mate, Juan Pablo Montoya, finished fifth after basically starting from the back of the grid.
"After such a great result in Monaco, I am really looking forward to racing this weekend," Räikkönen said. "The MP4-20 package is working really well and hopefully we will continue to be competitive in Germany."
Last weekend's victory moved the Finn into second place in the drivers' standings, knocking Toyota's Jarno Trulli back to third.
Williams, too, had a blistering race at Monaco as Nick Heidfeld and Mark Webber took second and third places respectively for the German's second podium finish for Williams and Webber's first podium finish ever.
Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello continued their run of bad luck in Monaco and only scraped together a few points. The change in qualifying is expected to help lift the Scuderia's prospects for the rest of the season though.
"Qualifying is our Achilles' heel at the moment and that was particularly evident at Monte Carlo," said Schumacher, who has once again greatly rated his chances of a win. "If this weakness has less of an effect than it did at Monaco then we have a realistic chance of progressing and going on to win races," he concluded.
BAR returns to racing this weekend and the team has apparently been quite busy refining its cars during the break. Though it was stripped of its Imola points and its drivers had to sit out the Spanish and Monaco grands prix, BAR remains upbeat about the weekend's racing.
"It goes without saying how much we racing drivers look forward to our next Grand Prix, but it's been five weeks since I last raced at Imola and I'm very excited about getting back in the car this weekend," Jenson Button said.
With the legion of Ferrari fans again waiting to see whether the red cars will return to form at Nürburgring and perhaps secure Schumi his first win of the season in front of his home fans, this weekend's racing could be as unpredictable as ever. With Räikkönen chasing his third win in a row, Alonso seeking to maintain his championship lead and Button planning a startling comeback, the top order could once more be shaken up in Germany.
Tyres will again have a big role to play as Michelin pursues its eighth straight win. The French tyre manufacturer is confident that it will be able to maintain the competitive edge it has held over its rival, Bridgestone, in the early part of the season.
Original article from Car