Pierre Dupasquier (Motorsport Director) Seven of the eight finishers were on Michelin tyres. What conclusions did you draw from the race? "Firstly, I don't think the first-corner accident changed a great deal as far as the overall result was ...
Pierre Dupasquier (Motorsport Director)
Seven of the eight finishers were on Michelin tyres. What conclusions did you draw from the race?
"Firstly, I don't think the first-corner accident changed a great deal as far as the overall result was concerned, because Ferrari has been a cut above the rest all weekend. It did, however, provide for a slightly bizarre top six. For us the main thing was that we got to run all afternoon in consistently dry conditions, which allowed us to gather strong, consistent data for the first time all weekend. When we analyse the details we will glean some useful information."
Juan Pablo Montoya took the start on well-used front tyres. Did that prove to be the right move?
"Absolutely. That was his choice and he was very happy with his car's balance."
Why did he take on fresh tyres after his one scheduled refuelling stop?
"Simple -- the team hadn't had chance to scrub more dry tyres because of the changeable weather this weekend. But his car still seemed to work very well so perhaps this is a tactic we will start to use in future. Certainly it has given us some fresh and int eresting data."
Kimi Räikkönen finished third and McLaren scored a podium finish in its first race on Michelin for 17 years. How did you rate his performance?
"He did a very good job. I notice he slid off the track a couple of times -- but that happened to quite a few drivers. I think there was a lot of oil down because of all the accidents. David Coulthard also drove a good race for McLaren until a technical pro blem caused him to slow down and, eventually, retire."
Mark Webber scored Minardi's first points since 1999 and Mika Salo gave Toyota a top-six finish in its first grand prix. You must feel pleased for them.
"I am. Obviously the first-lap accident made this something of an odd race, but in this business it is important to finish and they both managed that."
Will you be bringing anything new to Malaysia?
"Yes -- we have some tyres that are different in terms of compound and construction. We have already tested them and will be running them again at Silverstone next week. I don't imagine conditions will be quite like those we'll see in Malaysia, however. I c an't see the track temperature touching 30 degrees."
Five Michelin drivers in the points
World champion Michael Schumacher got his title defence off to a perfect start in the Australian Grand Prix by taking a comfortable 18.6-second victory at the end of an incident-packed afternoon. The Ferrari star started second but soon dropped to fourth a fter being forced to slow at the first corner to avoid becoming involved in a multiple accident that decimated the field. Gradually, however, the German worked his way to the front and he was never challenged after muscling his way past Juan Pablo Montoya (BMW WilliamsF1 Team/Michelin). The Colombian went on to finish second ahead of Finn Kimi Räikkönen, who scored his maiden F1 podium finish in his first start for the Michelin-equipped McLaren-Mercedes team.
Although three Michelin cars were eliminated in the first-corner pile-up -- triggered when Ralf Schumacher (BMW WilliamsF1 Team) collided with pole position winner Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari) and provoked a chain reaction behind -- the company equipped seve n of only eight cars running at the finish.
Eddie Irvine (Jaguar Racing) steered clear of the initial chaos to finish fourth and give Jaguar some cheer at the end of a difficult weekend during which it had struggled to get the best from its R3 chassis. Local hero Mark Webber enjoyed a remarkable gra nd prix debut for the KL Minardi Asiatech team, working his way into the points at an early stage and fending off a late challenge from Panasonic Toyota Racing driver Mika Salo to finish fifth. Salo spun with two laps to go while pressing Webber, but he re covered to finish sixth and give Toyota a point in its first Formula One race. The Finn was caught up in the first-corner accident, but stopped for repairs and didn't lose too much time to his rivals because the Safety Car neutralised the field for several laps while the wreckage was cleared.
Alex Yoong (KL Minardi Asiatech) and Pedro de la Rosa (Jaguar Racing) were the only other drivers to reach the finish. De la Rosa was five laps behind by the end after twice having to stop for repairs.
Of the other Michelin runners, David Coulthard (West McLaren-Mercedes) and Jarno Trulli (Mild Seven Renault F1) ran first and second initially, but the Italian spun off while under pressure from Schumacher and Coulthard ran off the road before slowing with a technical problem that eventually led to his retirement. Trulli's team-mate Jenson Button and Allan McNish (Toyota) both retired on the first lap after becoming caught up in the Turn One mêlée.