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Last Updated: Sunday, 24 August, 2003, 20:39 GMT 21:39 UK
Ferrari need quick solutions

By Jonathan Legard
BBC motor racing correspondent

The holes in the crowd around the Hungaroring matched those blown into Michael Schumacher's championship lead.

More's the pity numbers were down because Fernando Alonso's history-making victory has almost certainly ensured that the title contest will last the distance until the final Grand Prix in Japan in October.

Rubens Barrichello's Ferrari is badly damaged after a 180mph crash
Barrichello's Ferrari was badly damaged after a 180mph crash

And who would have predicted that after Schumacher hit the front so ominously in June as a result of his fourth victory of the season?

With races in Italy and America before Suzuka, Schumacher now has both Juan Pablo Montoya and Kimi Raikkonen hot on his tail, with a mere two points covering all three drivers.

The unthinkable for Ferrari is that the tifosi at Monza in three weeks will witness Schumacher's fall from the top of the standings as Montoya repeats his 2001 triumph there.

Williams have already moved ahead in the Constructors championship and they admit they are also favourites to score heavily around the long straights at Indianapolis.

All of which leaves Ferrari hoping that a combination of Schumacher's genius, Ross Brawn's technical prowess and most crucially, Bridgestone advances in tyre performance can keep alive their champion's dream of a record sixth world title in Japan.

But the manner in which Williams and McLaren made the Prancing Horse look so ordinary in Hungary suggests Ferrari's number one is facing an unequal struggle.

He was ahead of both Williams cars after the first lap, and usually he would have turned the screw.

This time, however, he got hammered.

Ferrari's Jean Todt said the weekend was "disappointing" - desperate, dispiriting or embarrassing is closer to the mark
Jonathan Legard

Ralf Schumacher scythed through the ranks from last to fourth, outmanoeuvring and overtaking his brother on the way.

Montoya, with the fastest laps of the race, charged past to claim his seventh consecutive podium.

As for Raikkonen, Schumacher barely saw him for dust - and there was plenty of that from the extensive rebuilding work at the circuit.

What's more, Schumacher himself ran out of fuel before his second pit stop and then found himself lapped by the outstanding Alonso.

Factor in Rubens Barrichello's frightening accident, when one of his rear wheels flew off at 180mph, and you wonder how Jean Todt, Ferrari's team director, managed to limit himself to "disappointing" as his word for the weekend.

Desperate, dispiriting or embarrassing were surely closer to the mark.

Ferrari's test at Monza the week after next is set to become their most intensive of recent years.

The pressure on Bridgestone to come up with answers and solutions is enormous.

With good reason, Ferrari claim they have the best driver and the best car. Testing has proved the F2003-GA is faster than the F2002.

Understandably they also claim they have more experience of the big occasion.

That's just as well - because they look like needing every drop in the most competitive title run-in since the epic battle between Nigel Mansell, Nelson Piquet and eventual champion Alain Prost in 1986.







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