Good start for Michelin in Canada Michelin drivers dominated the opening day of the Canadian Grand Prix by setting the top two times at the new-look Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on the ÃŽle Notre Dame in Montreal. Monaco GP winner David Coulthard...
Good start for Michelin in Canada
Michelin drivers dominated the opening day of the Canadian Grand Prix by setting the top two times at the new-look Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on the Île Notre Dame in Montreal. Monaco GP winner David Coulthard lapped in 1m 15.407s to shade Williams-BMW star Juan Pablo Montoya by just 0.136s. Coulthard's best lap was comfortably faster than last season's pole position-winning time, although the circuit layout has been revised in several places since last year's corresponding race and lap times were consequently expected to fall.
World championship leader Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) had a brush with the wall during the first part of the two-hour session but bounced back to set third fastest time. The German is chasing the 47th pole position and 59th win of his F1 career this weeke nd as he continues his quest for a record-equalling fifth F1 world title.
Michelin drivers took five of the top six places, with Kimi Räikkönen (West McLaren-Mercedes, fourth), Ralf Schumacher (BMW Williamsf1 Team, fifth) and Mika Salo (Panasonic Toyota Racing, sixth) hot on the championship favourite's tail. The younger Schumac her briefly led the times halfway through the session, but a spin interrupted his progress.
Pedro de la Rosa (Jaguar Racing, 11th) was quickest of the remaining Michelin runners, ahead of Jenson Button (Renault F1, 15th), Eddie Irvine (Jaguar Racing, 17th), Mark Webber (KL Minardi-Asiatech, 18th), Allan McNish (Panasonic Toyota Racing, 20th), Jar no Trulli (Renault F1, 21st) and Alex Yoong (KL Minardi-Asiatech, 22nd).
Technical problems made it a difficult day for both Renault drivers. Button spent most of the morning in his pit garage and Trulli had to pull off and park just after the afternoon session had started.
Michelin's day Pierre Dupasquier (Motorsport Director)
Michelin had five cars in the top six today and your partner teams set the two fastest times. How happy are you with the way things have gone so far?
"This has been a good day for us - but it is worth repeating that Friday doesn't always offer a true picture of what might follow. The track will change a great deal between now and the race and today teams were sticking rigidly to their own development pr ogrammes, with different fuel loads and so on. Several of our partners are in very good shape - and Renault might have been up there too but for technical problems."
"The track layout is slightly different this season in Montreal, but so far that hasn't caused us any particular problems. Generally, there is a lot of work to be done here to find the ideal aerodynamic balance, because you need relatively low downforce in order to run quickly on the straights but you daren't go too far because you don't want to compromise braking performance or cornering grip. Here, there is a very fine line between getting your balance right and running too little wing, which tends to make the car slide around too much and overheat its tyres."
Does this track favour softer or harder tyre compounds?
"Even the harder of the two options we have brought to this race might de described as quite 'soft'. Montreal is a case apart because although harder compounds are traditionally more durable, that isn't necessarily the case here. A stickier tyre might last longer simply because it will be sliding around much less."
Do your primary (A) and option (B) tyres both seem well suited to Montreal?
"I think we might see both being used in the race, although we haven't made up our minds yet. They are quite similar in terms of compound, less so in terms of construction, but so far there doesn't seem to be much to choose between them in terms of perform ance. Both are quite different from the tyres we used to win here last season, simply because greater experience has allowed us to evolve our methods considerably."
You won at Imola in 2001 but failed to repeat that result earlier this season. You are coming here as defending race winner. Any concerns that the tables might be turned again?
"One never knows - but I ought to point out that we made significant performance gains at Imola this year, about eight-tenths of a second per lap. People like to point their finger at tyres when things don't work out as expected, but there is usually a ran ge of contributory factors. From what we have seen I feel very comfortable about our prospects this weekend."