Atlas F1 News Service, a Reuters report

Williams Hoping for Dry Austrian GP

Tuesday May 8th, 2001

Williams will be praying to the heavens for dry conditions at Sunday's Austrian Formula One Grand Prix, aware that rain will dampen their chances of a spot on the podium, team director Gerhard Berger said on Tuesday.

"Our weakness is rain. If it rains this weekend, then we'll certainly not be in contention for a top placing," the Austrian former Formula One driver told reporters.

"The tyres will be the determining factor at the race -- and we're not up to scratch with our rain tyres as we should be," Berger added in reference to the tyre supplier Michelin.

Berger considers the circuit unlucky after several years of enforced retirements in the Austrian race for his drivers, but he is keeping his fingers crossed that this year will be different.

"A well functioning traction control system will be an advantage here so hopefully after the test in Valencia we should be a step ahead compared to Barcelona," said Berger.

"I have never had particularly good races there in my career. Whenever I thought I had got it all right it just seemed to all go wrong. But this year the A1-Ring should be quite a good track for us."

He acknowledged that expectations of a top placing had surged since Ralf Schumacher, who recently made Austria his home, grabbed the first win of his Formula One career at the San Marino Grand Prix last month.

"But you can't expect us to be consistently at the top this year. Michelin is just a year on the circuit...and you can only win a Grand Prix if the whole package fits -- a good driver, tyres and chassis," Berger added.

The team had been running tests on the rain tyres with a traction control system but the results were not as good as had been hoped.

"On a fine day they can be as good or even better than others, but in rain they've still got a way to go," Berger said.

Berger's prayers might well be answered. Meteorologists are forecasting sun and mild temperatures for this weekend.

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