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Drivers to watch

Check out a short list of favorites for Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix:

Fernando Alonso (Spain):
Returns to the site where he won his
first career pole position - the first of two he won last year;
started the season-opening Grand Prix of Australia and finished
on the podium in the third spot; became the youngest race winner
in the history of grand prix racing after claiming the
Hungarian GP last year at the age of 21; finished sixth in the
championship standings in 2003, his third season; finished on
the podium at three other races, recording third-places finishes
at Malaysia and Brazil and a runner-up effort in Spain.

Rubens Barrichello (Brazil):
The ultimate No. 2 driver, the
Brazilian plays supporting actor to leading man Michael
Schumacher at Ferrari; acted his part to perfection at the first
race of the season, coming in second to Schumacher after
starting along side his teammate; won races last year in England
and Japan to lift his career total to seven wins; finished the
championship in fourth place after coming in second in Malaysia,
third in San Marino, Spain, Austria, Europe and Italy; also won
two pole positions.

David Coulthard (Scotland):
Started the Grand Prix of Australia
from the 12th spot and climbed to an eighth-place finish in the
last race; had another mediocre year in 2003, finishing 10th in
the championship; his lone win last season at the Australian
GP; had his best season in 2001 when he finished second in the
championship; owns 13 wins in 157 F1 starts, standing on the
podium 60 times.

Juan Montoya (Colombia):
Earned four ranking points with his
fifth-place finish in the season-opening Grand Prix of Australia
earlier this month; qualified third; came in second in Malaysia
two years ago; in his third year in Formula 1, the former CART
champion collected 82 points to finish third in the championship
for the second straight season; won races at Monaco and
Germany; had a consistent stretch in the middle of the season
when he finished on the podium eight straight races; came in
second in five events, and third at two races; might have to
answer questions of being an underachiever after producing just
three wins in 50 races, despite starting from the pole 11 times.

Kimi Raikkonen (Finland):
Is coming off a disappointing effort
at the season-opening race in Australia; qualified 10th but
retired on lap 10 with an engine failure caused by a loss of
water pressure; claimed his first career victory in Malaysia at
last year's race; last year finished just two points in back of
Michael Schumacher in the championship title hunt that was
decided in the last race of the season; earned points in 13 of
16 races; was runner-up in seven races and finished third at two
others.

Michael Schumacher (Germany):
Won this grand prix in 2000-01;
the six-time Formula One champion claimed the pole at the
season-opening Grand Prix of Australia and went on to claim his
71st career win; after leading all 54 laps, the German said, "In
Formula One things can change very rapidly and we shouldn't
forget that we have always done well in Australia. Malaysia, as
well as being a very difficult race, is also unpredictable
because of the climate. It isn't one of our favorite tracks.";
his pole at Australia was his 56th, 10 behind Ayrton Senna's
record of 65.

Ralf Schumacher (Germany):
The Sepang circuit was the site of
one of his sixth career victories; started fourth in 2002 and took
advantage of other drivers' early misfortuntes to drive a balanced
race under high temperatures and humidity; qualified eighth in the
season-opening race in Australia but managed a fourth-place finish;
was fifth in the standings in a mixed 2003; earned points in seven
straight races until making it to the podium with a runner-up effort
at the Canadian GP; won the next two races at the European GP and the
French GP; scored just one point in the final six events.