mayo 23, 2005

Two for Raikkonen, seven for Michelin

Kimi on MclarenTwo for Raikkonen, seven for Michelin
Monaco GP - Michelin - Race

Kimi Raikkonen (Team McLaren Mercedes/Michelin) scored another dominant Formula One victory in today’s 52nd Monaco Grand Prix. The Finn led away from pole position, pulled more than a second clear of his rivals on the opening lap and was never seriously challenged thereafter. It was his second consecutive F1 success and fourth in all – as well as a seventh on the trot for Michelin.

“Monaco is only worth 10 points, just like any other race,” said Kimi, “but it does give you a special feeling. I almost won here two years ago, but was narrowly beaten by Juan Pablo Montoya, so it’s nice to do it at last. We have worked hard, and I think we have the best package out there at the moment. One again thank you to the entire team and everybody at Michelin.”

Ron Dennis, McLaren Group chairman, added: “This was clearly a challenging race for the tyre manufacturers and I’m obviously delighted with Michelin’s performance. We’ve had no problems at all this weekend. A special mention to our partner Michelin who clearly gave us the best tyres today.”

World championship leader Fernando Alonso and Renault team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella initially ran second and third, but their cars proved to be harder on rear tyres than those of some rival teams and they were forced to defend stoutly during the second half of the race. Alonso only ceded a podium position in the closing stages, when the Michelin-shod Williams- BMWs of Nick Heidfeld and Mark Webber passed him at the harbourside chicane to finish second and third – career-best results for both and a maiden F1 podium for Webber.

Sam Michael – Technical Director Williams F1 – said: “It was a good job from the whole team and it is fantastic to see Nick and Mark side by side on the podium. We raced a Michelin tyre that was perfectly suited to Monaco.”

Alonso was unable to relax even then, because Juan Pablo Montoya (Team McLaren Mercedes/Michelin) led a snake of cars that was closing fast. After recovering from 16th on the grid – he was penalised for causing “an avoidable accident” during Saturday’s free practice – the Colombian finished fifth, just 0.160s behind Alonso. Ralf Schumacher (Toyota) completed an all-Michelin top six – and he had to work hard, too, after starting last in the wake of a qualifying accident. He was just half a second behind Alonso at the flag… and 0.046s in front of brother Michael’s Ferrari. The latter’s team-mate Rubens Barrichello completed the top eight.

Of the other Michelin runners, Jarno Trulli initially looked set to challenge for a strong finish but went straight on at the chicane and made an unscheduled stop to check for damage. As a result, he dropped to 10th. Felipe Massa (Sauber) finished ninth, despite losing time when team-mate Jacques Villeneuve forced him down an escape road after a failed overtaking manoeuvre at Ste Dévote. After being elbowed aside by Trulli, Fisichella – who also lost time in the pits when his refuelling flap refused to open –eventually finished 12th, behind Villeneuve.

Red Bull team-mates David Coulthard and Vitantonio Liuzzi were the only Michelin drivers not to last the distance. Coulthard ran seventh initially, but was first car on the scene when Albers spun. Although he jinked around the Dutchman, the following Michael Schumacher was unable to stop and ran into the back of the Scot, inflicting terminal suspension damage. Liuzzi retired after sliding into a barrier.

Pierre Dupasquier, Michelin Motorsport Director
“Today we witnessed another excellent result for Michelin and its partner teams – but we also saw clearly how alternative set-ups and traction control maps can influence tyre wear in different ways. The top three drivers used two different prime and one option. From the tests we previously conducted we knew that the result for the level of wear for the two prime specifications was similar.”

"The wear rates in the race were pretty much what we predicted and it was very satisfying to see Kimi Räikkönen and McLaren-Mercedes continue our unbeaten run. To annexe the top six places with four partner teams once again illustrates Michelin’s ability to provide competitive tyres for a wide range of different circumstances.”

“I think we have witnessed both ends of the wear-rate spectrum this season. The compounds we used in Australia would probably have lasted for three race distances, but some teams have pushed their tyres right to the limit today. As always, we will go away and put these lessons to good use as we strive to maintain the advantage our Formula One partners enjoy at present.”

Martin Whitmarsh, CEO Formula One, Team McLaren Mercedes
“Our Michelin tyres were excellent today. We worked very diligently during the build-up to Monaco because there’s a delicate balance to be struck between traction and grip. We concentrated hard on that and were able to attack at the end of a race in a way that some teams weren’t. I’d like to thank Michelin for providing tyres that gave both our drivers tremendous confidence.”