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GP Week : Issue 89
GPWEEK OPINION >> Time To Get Better was the class of the field. This year they started with a world beater, albeit a (typically) fragile one, and any suggestions that McLaren had overtaken them in development were crushed with Sebastian Vettel's peerless victory a week ago in Valencia. July 11 is highlighted on the workshop calendar not because the British Grand Prix is RBR's home race (shhh don't tell Mr Mateschitz), but because Silverstone is custom designed for the RB6's talents. It doesn't just like fast corners, it covers them in baby oil and dry humps them. They should be very wary indeed about this forthcoming McLaren upgrade, however, which promises to give the MP4-25 similar abilities. With Button and Hamilton showing outstanding consistency in the last three races, and the Woking lot beginning to pull away in the constructors' championship, it looks a little bit like they could 'kidnap' this title from Red Bull, who would be leading were it not for breakdowns and self-inflicted mega-crashes. Newey can't gun down the aggressors. That kind of thing is frowned upon! So he's just going to have to get back to the drawing board, not get distracted by the new motor on the driveway, and sketch out a few more genius ideas that are going to see Vettel and Webber push the McLaren boys off the podium. er Arrow through the heart Repsol team; and Yamaha, where top management is directly involved with the racing effort. The Suzuki team also has a core of factory men, and boy do they work at it. But the level of resources available is clearly far short of its MotoGP factory rivals. So too, it seems, is the extra motivation that would come from management less satisfied with mediocre results. It's been like this for years, yet Suzuki managed a sort of seven-year cycle where it would take the championship. Then you look at the names. Well, the last one was Kenny Roberts Junior, in 2000: a clinical rider who played the percentages and did what was necessary against some moderate competition. But the one before was Kevin Schwantz. His Suzuki was never the best bike on the track; but his inspirational riding dragged the bike, the team and the factory to the top of the results sheets. Not just in 1993, but for several years before he finally won the crown. The next one was due in 2007. And in fact it was a bit of a good year: John Hopkins was fourth in that first 800cc season, team-mate Chris Vermeulen sixth. A big improvement on (say) 2003 -- Hopkins and Roberts 17th and 19th, or the next year -- 16th and 18th. For the past three years the team has relied on the veteran skills of Loris Capirossi to guide them out of the slough of despond. But there are signs that the job has been wearing him down -- too many bad results and broken promises. Enter Alvaro Bautista, now free from injury -- his speed and commitment at Barcelona were a major boost. It's a hard call to say he's the next Kevin Schwantz, but it will be interesting to see if he is rider enough to revitalise Suzuki once again. 23