New rules liven up show but fail to stop Ferrari
Twelve months ago Formula One's ruling body changed the rules to revitalise the sport after TV viewing figures tumbled around the world when Ferrari dominated F1 in 2002.
A year on, Ferrari have secured a fifth constructors' title and
Schumacher has claimed his record-breaking sixth world title - but only just.
The outcome may have been the same but changes to the qualifying
system and points-scoring positions ultimately brought Formula One
back to life and added interest and intrigue.
Both championship battles went down to the wire -- the exact
intent of the changes -- and despite the season ending with
familiar winners, it was hailed as a success.
Ferrari team boss Jean Todt was opposed to the rule changes and
admits they made winning again this year a lot harder.
"We probably did not get the best out of them in the beginning
but then I think the wish was to make qualifying more unpredictable
this year," he said.
"This season it was much more competitive, it was much more
difficult to achieve what we achieved and we had to wait until the
last race before it came.
"It's hard to believe because we have been fighting so much so
it will take a few days before we do realise it. All the team can
feel proud of the job that has been done."
It took Ferrari driver Rubens Barrichello's victory at Suzuka to
end Kimi Raikkonen's hopes of lifting a maiden world title.
McLaren's Raikkonen needed to win and hope Schumacher finished
outside of the points. In the end, however, Schumacher collected
the single point that he needed.
But more significantly Williams, who trailed Ferrari by three
points in the constructors' championship heading to Japan, saw
their title hopes end in a whimper.
Juan Pablo Montoya retired from the lead early in the race and
team-mate Ralf Schumacher could only finish 12th after starting
from the back and spinning twice.
Technical director Patrick Head said: "It was a very poor end
but over the whole year we did well. We started too weak and had a
very poor last two races, but the car speed has been good at all
Frank Williams added: "It is a disappointing end to what has
been a brilliant Formula One season."
Williams took scant consolation from retaining their second
place in the constructors' championship with Head insisting they
were determined to halt the Ferrari success show.
"Well he (Schumacher) is a fantastic driver - there's no doubt
about that - and Ferrari are a great team and they've come out in
the front this year, but it's our job to beat them," Head said.
Source : Sapa-AFP