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Regular Points For Midland?

Regular Points For Midland?

The renamed Jordan team – Midland – have declared their intention on scoring regular points this season, and believe they can compete with BMW Sauber and Red Bull Racing as they progress through the 2006 campaign. This has bouyed their lead driver Tiago Monteiro and he is said to be “thrilled” with the testing pace of the new car whilst lapping the Barcelona circuit yesterday.

With rain pouring onto the track, he managed to be 1.1 seconds shy of the pace setting Williams piloted by Mark Webber. However, I an slightly dubious of testing times, and try not to read too much into them. So many times in the past, a car has gone very well in pre-season testing only to be hoplessly off the pace come the first race.

The reason for this apparent change in form comes down to many reasons. For a start, it is unknown what fuel levels each car is running. Obviously more fuel in the car makes it heavier and has a knock-on effect to the lap time. For all we know, Webber may have been running with a full tank so the team can assess its handling with the extra weight. Monteiro may have been running light and thus would look quite competitive in comparison. But in reality of a Grand Prix, he would be miles away from Team Willy.

Another reason for a difference in testing and race form is the purpose of the test for each team. Williams may have been focusing on tyre development in Barcelona, and may have not been driving at full pace. They may have been recreating a typical race scenario where a driver may have to pace himself in order to preserve his boots. Monteiro may have been flat-out, trying to judge the cars qualifying speed, or even the tyre degredation that may occur during short bursts of fast laps.

I’m also a little wary of Midlands apparent pace because of the circuit conditions. It was raining in Barcelona yesterday, and the Catalunya circuit was damp to say the least. As we have often seen in Grands Prix, a wet track tends to level out the field a little, bringing lap times closer together and allowing some of the lesser-budgeted teams a chance at scoring some points. So on that note, I would expect to see Midland about a second per lap off the pace of Williams in a wet race. Supossing that wet race is the Spanish Grand Prix (as it has been in the past), Monteiro would finish 66 seconds behind the Williams, which could end up being over a minute and a half from the leader.

Personally, I cannot see Midland challenging Red Bull or BMW Sauber. The teams I can see Midland competing with are Super Aguri and Scuderia Toro Rosso.

Am I wrong? Let me know what you think?

Oliver White

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