Australian GP: Michelin Saturday qualifying notes

FISICHELLA AND MICHELIN MAKE HAY WHILE SUN SHINES Giancarlo Fisichella (Renault/Michelin) capitalised on dramatically changing track conditions to annexe provisional pole position for tomorrow's Australian Grand Prix, opening round of the 2005...

FISICHELLA AND MICHELIN MAKE HAY WHILE SUN SHINES

Giancarlo Fisichella (Renault/Michelin) capitalised on dramatically changing track conditions to annexe provisional pole position for tomorrow's Australian Grand Prix, opening round of the 2005 Formula One world championship.

The Italian was one of only a handful of drivers to take to the track on dry-weather tyres -- and his 1m 33.171s lap put him more than two seconds clear of his rivals. A torrential downpour hit the track shortly after Fisichella had completed his run to give him an excellent chance of securing his second F1 career pole when times are aggregated after tomorrow morning's second run.

Michelin drivers completed a clean sweep of the top eight positions, with Jarno Trulli (Toyota) taking second from local favourite Mark Webber (BMW WilliamsF1 Team), Jacques Villeneuve (Sauber), Christian Klien (Red Bull Racing), David Coulthard (BMW WilliamsF1 Team), Nick Heidfeld (BMW WilliamsF1 Team) and Jenson Button (B*A*R-Honda). Takuma Sato (B*A*R-Honda) caused today's qualifying session to be red-flagged briefly after he crashed at the height of the downpour.

Minardi has resolved its eligibility dispute with the FIA after updating its chassis to comply fully with the 2005 regulations. The team's F1 rookies Patrick Friesacher and Christijan Albers were thus able to take part in today's free practice and qualifying sessions.

Michelin drivers set the fastest six times in Saturday morning's final free practice session -- Kimi Raikkonen (Team McLaren Mercedes) headed Fernando Alonso (Renault), Juan Pablo Montoya (Team McLaren Mercedes), Giancarlo Fisichella (Renault), Jenson Button (B*A*R- Honda) and Mark Webber (BMW WilliamsF1 Team).

Narain Karthikeyan (Jordan) -- the first Indian driver to take part in a grand prix -- was ninth fastest in the opening qualifying session. He missed part of this morning's free practice after spinning off at Turn Nine, the Clark Chicane. His furious efforts to restart generated a copious amount of wheelspin -- and his rear brakes became so hot that they briefly ignited.

Pierre Dupasquier, Michelin motorsport director:

"That was an interesting session -- although luck obviously played its part, with conditions fluctuating between virtually dry and extremely wet. From a technical perspective, the most interesting comparison was that between Kimi Raikkonen's McLaren and Rubens Barrichello's Ferrari -- they went out back to back in identical, wet conditions and the times reflect the competitiveness of the Michelin/McLaren package."

"We gathered some interesting wet- and dry-weather data during this morning's free practice and afternoon's qualifying. All Michelin tyres specifications dry and wet were very competitive. We look forward to seeing some interesting comparisons in the race. If it stays dry, our Prime and Option tyres will both be on the grid."

Pat Symonds, Executive Director of Engineering, Mild Seven RenaultF1 Team:

"During our running in today's morning sessions, we were able to test Michelin's new intermediate tyre. It was pleasing to see that it confirmed the good potential it had shown in winter testing, and proved it under practice conditions."

-michelin-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Ferrari , Red Bull Racing , Mercedes , Sauber , McLaren , Williams , Minardi , Jordan