Sunday, October 24, 2004

F1 Round 18 -- Montoya Wins

In his last race for Williams, Juan Pablo Montoya returns to the scene of his F1 debut and captures the Brasilian Grand Prix. Kimi Raikonnen and Rubens Barrichello round out the last podium of the 2004 season. This year's World Championship has been both historic and boring, for precisely the same reason -- the uber-domination of the sport by Michael Schumacher and Ferrari. Michael and Ferrari have set marks that may never be eclipsed, but then they said that about ["the legendary"] Juan Manuel Fangio's 5 World Championships as well. Next year, Michael will set his sights on championship numer 8.

Next year should prove infinitely more interesting. F1's governing body, the FIA, has introduced significant rules changes, most radically, limiting maximum aerodynamic ground force to roughly the minimum amount of downforce run this year. In other words, the downforce the teams ran in Monza -- a highspeed, low downforce circuit -- will be the maximum downforce. That change alone should mix up the grid next year and bring the best pure drivers to the fore. Although many discount Schumacher's talent level, I suspect he will remain on top, even if the season proves more challenging. In addition, the FIA has mandated that only one tyre set may be used for qualifying and race. This major change will force manufacturers to come with much harder tyre compounds, the result being a significant reduction in mechanical grip in addition to the new aero limits.