Lauda tips Ralf and Williams

Triple world champion Niki Lauda thinks next year will be a Williams championship at last. The Austrian reckons Ralf Schumacher will take the team's first drivers' title for the team since 1997

Lauda tips Ralf and Williams

"2004 will be a duel between Williams and Ferrari," said Lauda. "And in my opinion, Williams will enjoy a slight advantage next year."

Lauda thinks Williams won't be caught out developing their new car during the early part of the year as happened in 2003. The 2004 challenger is not expected to be late, and the engine is already ready.

"In 2004 they will be competitive from the very first race of the season, particularly as they have started to test their new engine for 2004 as early as in September."

Lauda also says that Ralf Schumacher will have the edge on team partner Montoya next year, which would logically make him champion if Williams really does have the best package.

"This year Ralf and Juan Pablo have been evenly matched. But I expect Ralf to have an advantage in 2004 as Juan Pablo has manoeuvred himself into a strange position by flirting with McLaren."

Montoya is very widely believed to have signed for McLaren for the 2005 season, although no announcement has been made to this effect.

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