THE FINAL SHOWDOWN
The 2006 Brazilian Grand Prix is the final round of this seasons Formula One world championship and also marks the end of an era as Michelin bids the sport adieu. This will be Michelins 216th grand prix and Brazil is an appropriate stage for the companys farewell.
It was here at Rio de Janeiros Jacarepagua circuit, on January 29 1978 that the company scored the first of its 102 F1 victories. It isnt just chasing a 103rd this weekend: it is also bidding to help partner Renault secure an F1 title double for the second consecutive season.
This will be the 34th Brazilian GP and the 24th to have taken place at Interlagos, in the suburbs of São Paulo. The circuit hosted Brazils maiden grand prix, in 1973, and in shortened form has been the events permanent home since 1990.
Carlos Reutemann (Ferrari) was the architect of Michelins maiden F1 victory 28 years ago and the company has since notched up another seven successes in Brazil, with René Arnoux (Renault, 1980), Reutemann again (Williams, 1981), Alain Prost (Renault, 1982 and McLaren-TAG turbo, 1984), Nelson Piquet (Brabham-BMW, 1983) and Juan Pablo Montoya (McLaren-Mercedes, 2004 and 2005).
Nick Shorrock, Formula One director, Michelin:
We are approaching the last race of the 2006 season and, indeed, Michelins final Formula One race for the foreseeable future. We were hoping for a hard-fought campaign and it has been every bit as competitive as we expected it would be. Who could have foreseen such a topsy-turvy, incident-packed championship?"
Although Brazil was traditionally one of the early fixtures during the F1 season, it moved to the end of the schedule in 2004 and there is an appreciable chance of rain. Track temperatures are likely to be variable, too."
The circuit features some very demanding corners towards the end of the lap, between Turns 8 and 12, and two long straights. On the long drag from Turn 12 to the finishing line, cars reach speeds of more than 300kph (186mph)."
Given the potentially fluctuating conditions, the products we have chosen for Interlagos need a broad operational spectrum and we selected them as late as possible in accordance with the most up-to-date forecasts. If it stays cold, there is a risk of graining and tyres need a higher degree of rigidity. In warmer weather, the possibility of blistering can limit rear-tyre performance. The selected products are similar in character to those that worked so well in Budapest and that includes the rain tyres."
We go to Brazil with one of our partners leading both world championships and we are obviously determined to bow out of F1 on a high note. I would like to thank our partners and our rivals for creating such a competitive environment. Such is the true essence of F1. I would also like to extend my gratitude to all Michelin team members at the track, in the factory, at the research centre and within our logistics group. Every one of them has played a part in our many successes.
David Coulthard, Red Bull Racing
Interlagos has a very short lap and relies on mechanical rather than aerodynamic grip. Either way, of course, tyres play a critical part and it is vital to have good traction and strong braking stability."
Graining used to be a serious issue in the early days of grooved tyres, but things have evolved to such an extent that we hardly see significant instances of this any more. The Brazilian Grand Prix has been a good race for me in the past and Im confident that Michelin will come up with a competitive tyre that allows us to get the most from the weekend.