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The Independent Online
There was only one driver to have in your team at Interlagos: Damon Hill. Pole position, fastest lap and race win, a totally dominant performance, and one of great maturity and bravery. At pounds 23m, Damon doesn't come cheap, but right now he's streets ahead of the opposition. Jacques Villeneuve's performance in Melbourne made him look a bargain at pounds 18m, but perhaps his inexperience showed in Interlagos. It's a tricky, bumpy track, all the more fiendish in the wet, and Jacques was fooled into a spin by the wily Alesi.

Benetton's French-Sicilian was the only driver in the same league - and on the same lap - as Hill, bringing his Dream Team score to a respectable level after the embarassment of Melbourne. This time it was his team-mate Gerhard Berger's turn to suffer - early retirement means a minus score, and Benetton still have a way to go to catch up Williams.

Michael Schumacher at least managed to make it to the finish this time, but he looks poor value for his pounds 25m Dream Team salary. His Ferrari team- mate Eddie Irvine was almost anonymous in Interlagos, and the scarlet cars obviously need development. Asked where the team were losing time to Williams, Schumacher responded despondently: "Everywhere."

Pedro Diniz is rapidly becoming the bargain buy of the season. His speed will always be impaired by the weight of his wallet, but Pedro trundles happily round at the tail of the field picking up places as other drivers fall off: he will score a bucketload more points this season. The bulk of these will come in the "most improved" category, as Diniz tends to qualify low on the grid and finishes relatively high in the field. Anyone thinking of entering the competition this week should put Pedro on their list. The other bargain-basement high-achievers were Diniz's Ligier team- mate Olivier Panis, and Tyrrell's Flying Finn Mika Salo. Black mark of the day went to Minardi's Grand Prix debutant Tarso Marques, who spun off on the first lap. Minus five points, and a very red face, but you have to feel sorry for him: starting your first Grand Prix on a flooded track cannot be easy.

DRIVER OF THE DAY: Rubens Barrichello

The young Brazilian Jordan-Peugeot driver kept the Brazilian Grand Prix alive with his frenzied pursuit of Michael Schumacher and third place. The 22-year-old from Sao Paolo was burdened with the mantle of "the next Senna" too early in his career, but now he is beginning to add maturity to his raw speed. His performance in qualifying was superb, using his local knowledge to great advantage to line up alongside Damon Hill on the front row. But it was the audacity of his race driving that really impressed, constantly harrying more experienced drivers in the quest for a podium place at his home Grand Prix. Sadly he was too audacious in the end and fell off the track, but he had entertained nearly all day, and was well worth his five Dream Team points.

Grand Prix

Shopping List


pounds 25m

1 M Schumacher

pounds 23m

2 J Alesi

3 D Hill

pounds 20m

4 G Berger

pounds 18m

5 D Coulthard

6 E Irvine

7 J Villeneuve

pounds 13m

8 M Hakkinen

9 H H Frentzen

pounds 10m

10 M Brundle

11 R Barrichello

12 J Herbert

pounds 6m

13 M Salo

14 P Lamy

pounds 4m

15 P Diniz

16 U Katayama

17 J Verstappen

18 O Panis

pounds 3m

19 L Badoer

20 R Rosset

21 A Montermini

pounds 2m

22 G Fisichella

23 V Sospiri

24 T Marques

25 F Lagorce

26 H Noda

27 T Inoue

pounds 1m

28 M Blundell

29 J-C Boullion

30 K Brack

31 K Burt

32 E Collard

33 N Fontana

34 D Franchitti

35 N Larini

36 J Magnussen

37 A Prost

38 G Tarquini

39 K Wendlinger