Malaysia Offers Last Chance for Also-Rans

While Ferrari and McLaren settle the Formula One Constructors' crown in Malaysia on Sunday, two other teams will be struggling merely to make a point.

Malaysia Offers Last Chance for Also-Rans

While Ferrari and McLaren settle the Formula One Constructors' crown in Malaysia on Sunday, two other teams will be struggling merely to make a point.

Minardi and Prost have one last chance to salvage a blank year when the Grand Prix season reaches the end of the road after 17 races.

Looking purely at World Championship points, Ferrari have been 156 times more successful than either team over the past 16 races.

That is how many points new world champion Michael Schumacher and Brazilian teammate Rubens Barrichello have collected since the first race in Australia in March. McLaren have taken 143.

Prost and Minardi, most familiar to the millions of television viewers this season when their cars are lapped or retire, have scored none.

Minardi avoided ending 1999 as the worst performing team -- that was BAR who drew a blank in their debut year -- and will do it again on Sunday unless they fail to score and a Prost finishes seventh or higher.

The small Italian team took their last point 19 races ago, with Spaniard Marc Gene finishing sixth at the Nurburgring in September 1999.

That race brought Minardi their first point in almost four years and also marked the last time a Prost scored, with Italian Jarno Trulli taking second place.

Minardi have finished eighth three times this year while Prost have done so just once.

The rankings translate into significant amounts of cash when the teams' shares of Formula One's revenues are doled out and also determine the paddock and pits pecking order.

Final Farewells

Reliability problems have beset Prost and Malaysia marks French engine provider Peugeot's farewell to the sport as far as factory involvement is concerned after an acrimonious and largely unsuccessful stint.

Both Minardi and Prost have lost their major sponsors -- Telefonica in Minardi's case and French tobacco manufacturer Gauloises leaving Prost -- and will be keen for any result that might suck in some fresh cash.

Prost have already done a deal for Ferrari engines in 2001 and will be saying goodbye to German driver Nick Heidfeld, who is moving to the Swiss Sauber team.

Further up the grid, the mid-table battle will be settled between Benetton, BAR and Jordan.

Three points separate them, with Benetton fourth on 20, BAR on 18 and last season's third-placed team Jordan on 17.

"Malaysia will be important for us, as it is a chance for us to restore some pride to our season this year," says team boss Eddie Jordan.

Several drivers know that Malaysia will be their farewell to the grid, either permanently in the case of British Jaguar driver Johnny Herbert, or for an indefinite period.

Herbert, with 11 years in Formula One, is racing for the last time before retiring from Grands Prix while Brazilian Ricardo Zonta and Austrian Alexander Wurz have lost their drives with BAR and Benetton respectively.

Zonta will be Jordan's test driver next season and Wurz is set to move to McLaren in the same role.

Malaysia will also be the last Grand Prix in which all the Formula One contenders race on Bridgestone tyres -- French manufacturer Michelin is returning next season in a renewal of the 'tyre wars' of old.

Williams will be saying goodbye, for two seasons at least, to Briton Jenson Button who replaces Wurz at Benetton after an impressive debut year alongside Ralf Schumacher.

For Button at least, the future is looking bright.

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