Nurburgring: Michelin preview

2007 Le Mans Series: Nurburgring, Germany (round 3 out of 6) 29th June 1st July 2007 After scoring its 10th consecutive victory in the recent Le Mans 24 Hours with the Audi Sport team, Michelin is getting ready to tackle a new challenge on the...

2007 Le Mans Series: Nurburgring, Germany (round 3 out of 6) 29th June 1st July 2007

After scoring its 10th consecutive victory in the recent Le Mans 24 Hours with the Audi Sport team, Michelin is getting ready to tackle a new challenge on the Nurburgring circuit in Germany.

This is the LMS's fourth visit to the 5,148km track in the foothills of the Eiffel Mountains where the drivers will have to cover almost 190 laps before the chequered flag falls.

Michelin has to find the right combination on this very specific circuit between the front and rear tyres to give the cars the best possible balance. The company will also have a new range of rain tyres available for some of the petrol-engined cars to help them with their set-up when it is time to change from dry to wet conditions.

All this work helps Michelin to progress with its partners and propel them to the topmost step of the rostrum.

The circuit
Track length: 5,148 kms

Matthieu Bonardel, Circuit and Rally competitions manager

"The Nurburgring is always a challenge for Michelin. It has a lot of tight corners and a low average speed around 170 km/h. It doesn't pose any particular problems but the rear tyres are put under quite a lot of stress because of the acceleration from low speeds. It's easier for the fronts, but the overall lack of grip makes it difficult to get the tyres up to their ideal working temperature and this can cause understeer.

The surface provokes quite a lot of wear and this accentuates the understeer problem. Soft compounds wear very quickly but a harder mix could lead to a lack of competitiveness. And to cap it all the grip level can change during the race, and lap times can vary by as much as 3 seconds! And then of course, there's the problem of temperature variations that can go from one extreme to the other in the Eiffel Mountains ever at this time of the year - all of which adds to the complexity of the challenge we have to face."

The tyres

Matthieu Bonardel, Circuit and Rally competitions manager

"We're going to use our soft and medium compounds knowing that the latter can do two stints more easily, but at slightly lower speeds.

The cars can adopt various combinations to find the best balance. This means that to compensate for the understeer we can put soft tyres at the front and medium ones at the rear. This helps increase grip at the front without producing degradation at the rear as would be the case with the soft compound.

We can expect very different choices between the first stint and the end of the race. It's just a question of finding the right compromise while taking into account the fact that the circuit is very changeable. For example, how do you get the best out of the soft compounds if the temperatures are very low, or if you're faced with a choice at the end of the race when the track's rubbered in?

It can be very cool and we can find ourselves facing night-time conditions very quickly, which would force the teams to opt for the soft compound.

So it's difficult to find the right balance. Our aim will be to discriminate and try and combine soft/medium compounds to make sure we can maintain the performance level without compromising two stints.

Where the rain tyres are concerned we'll see if the range we brought to the Le Mans 24 Hours suits the Nurburgring layout, which is very slippery in the wet. We're also bringing new rain tyre evolutions to try and improve the handling of some cars that were in difficulty in the 24 Hours: in particular the petrol- engined ones. The ideal situation would be if the teams didn't have to make too many modifications to their set-ups when we change from dry to wet conditions. We'll see how we can help them with our tyres to progress when making these adjustments."

The Michelin Energy Endurance Challenge

Michelin has created the Michelin Energy Endurance Challenge for the 2007 season to reward the teams with the most efficient energy consumption in each of the six rounds of the Le Mans Series and the Le Mans 24 Hours.

This challenge is based on a specially calculated formula that goes under the name of the Performance Energy Index (IP), and is based on the weight, fuel consumption and the average speed of each of the team's cars during the race.

-credit: michelin

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series European Le Mans