From Mon Apr 17 11:07:11 2000 Date: Wed, 22 Mar 2000 19:23:55 +0000 From: Pete Fenelon To: Couldn't find our '97 preview but here's my rasf1 '96 preview... pete Some thoughts on 1996, now the lineups are starting to stabilise. FERRARI 412T3 Ferrari V10 Schumacher Irvine Schumacher's progress at Maranello will be followed with fascination. He is receiving huge amounts of money, and it's almost impossible to believe the claims that they're going to win "one or two" races. Eddie Irvine is an enigma; he is such a strong character that it's hard to imagine him letting Schumacher destroy him psychologically; The new engine seems to be good, the chassis is rather uncharacteristically late. I'd expect to see Schumacher in the running for a third consecutive title and Irvine looking for his first win, but reliability may scupper them. BENETTON B196 Renault RS8 V10 Berger Alesi Taking the 1995 Ferrari driver lineup and putting them in a development of the 1995 Benetton package seems like a good recpie, but Berger might not find the car to his taste or suited to his dimensions; Alesi seems to be the marginally better bet as Briatore seems to have done an effective headjob on him. No problems on the mechanical front, of course, and I'd regard them as favourites for the constructor's championship and Alesi as a good bet for the Driver's title. WILLIAMS FW18 Renault RS8 V10 Hill Villeneuve All of the ingredients are there for another good season, the question of Williams' ultimate level of performance seems to depend on two variables, the first being the quality of the teamwork behind the drivers (reliability, pit work and strategy etc), the other the psychology of the drivers. Hill will be trying very hard for his first title, and disillusionment could set in, particularly if Villeneuve proves to be as competitive as he threatens to be. If Jacques adapts well to F1, both drivers should be in the running for the title... JORDAN 196 Peugeot V10 Brundle Barrichello Lovely-looking car, whose test performance seems not to match its looks. Barrichello really must start to deliver lest he be labelled the Stefano Modena of the 90s; maybe the vastly experienced, professional and quick Brundle will bring out the best in him. Looks like a bit of a make-or-break season for Peugeot and Jordan, though -- if the engine is still unreliable I expect to see the Lion pull out of F1. MCLAREN MP4/11 Mercedes V10 Hakkinen Coulthard Car is apparently a near-copy of the Williams FW17 so should be free of trick bits like the MP4/10. Intriguing driver lineup; if Hakkinen is fit he'll be working hard towards a first win, and the chance to see how Coulthard fits in in a team that (realistically) isn't one of the top three will be fascinating. Mercedes involvement seems to be on the up. I'd expect to see at least a couple of wins from McLaren this year. The impressive Magnussen is on standby if Hakkinen is unfit. LIGIER JS43 Mugen V10 Panis Diniz Update of last year's car, moving a little further from its' shared roots with the Benetton B195, though the team seems to be strapped for cash (it's laid off staff and taken on the rich but otherwise not particularly impressive Diniz). Panis is enigmatic; he makes a very few glaring errors but is otherwise very cool without really being all that competitive. Rather Boutsen-like, which I'd say is his natural level. Walkinshaw is bullish about the team's future... FORTI FG02 Ford V8 Montermini ANO (Noda?) One would hope that Forti have done some sound engineering on this year's car, getting the weight down and the aerodynamics right. Hard to see them doing well, though. Montermini is at best mediocre, and the second seat will almost certainly be filled by a rent-a-driver, probably Noda at present. Backmarkers. If they get points I'll be impressed. MINARDI M196 Ford V8 Lamy Inoue Hard to see what Inoue's doing there except bringing a big pot of Yen, though Lamy is quick. Recent Minardi chassis have been pretty good, hampered by underpowered engines -- look for Lamy to perform well on the twistier circuits, and Inoue might be able to score points on attrition at such races. ARROWS FA17 Hart V8 Verstappen Rosset Possibly Jackie Oliver's best driver lineup for years. Hart V8 is light and powerful, so few problems there. Question over the development of the chassis, as designer Alan Jenkins is off to Stewart GP at the end of the year... Verstappen has demonstrated that he's capable of cutting the mustard at the sharp end and Rosset was very special in F3000. I can see the current incarnation of Arrows heading towards the podium on a semi-regular basis. SAUBER C15 Ford V10 Frentzen Herbert Understandably cheesed-off at losing the exclusivity on the Ford V10 for next year after developing it this season. This is pretty much Sauber's make-or-break year, though, and they've definitely got the drivers to make it work if the kit's any good. Chassis seems OK, Frentzen is widely held to be as quick as Schumacher and Herbert, with new added self-confidence, will be a formidable proposition in a decent car. I'd be surprised if the Swiss cars didn't reach the top of the podium at least once this season. TYRRELL 024 Yamaha V10 Salo Katayama After a rotten 1995, this year's Tyrrell looks rather special, maybe as good as the 018, and there's never been much wrong with the Yamaha (nee Judd) engines since they threw in their lot with the V10s. Salo showed flashes of brilliance last season and if the car's any good I'd expect to see him working wonders with it; Katayama really lost his way in '95 but if he returns to 1994 levels of performance I'd expect to see him in the points semi-regularly too. -- Peter Fenelon - Research Associate - High Integrity Systems Engineering Group, Dep't of Computer Science, University of York, York, YO1 5DD (+44 1904 433388) Mail: &