CHAMP WINS A THRILLER -- BUT BROTHER GIVES HIM NO RESPITE Michelin stars monster Schumacher in closest race of the season World champion Michael Schumacher scored his fourth Formula One victory of the season in Montreal -- and it was also his ...
CHAMP WINS A THRILLER -- BUT BROTHER GIVES HIM NO RESPITE
Michelin stars monster Schumacher in closest race of the season
World champion Michael Schumacher scored his fourth Formula One victory of the season in Montreal -- and it was also his hardest. The German fought tooth and nail with brother Ralf (BMW WilliamsF1 Team/Michelin), the early leader, and was just 0.7 seconds in front by the flag. The result elevated Schumacher Snr to the top of the points table for the first time this season.
Ralf said: "I think our Michelin tyres were better today. In the latter stages of the race I could have gone faster if I'd had a clear road ahead -- but Michael slipped ahead of me at the first stop and after that there was no way I could pass him. I was never quite close enough to try."
This was the most exciting race of the Formula One season so far. Juan Pablo Montoya (BMW WilliamsF1 Team) recovered from a second-lap spin and dramatically fought his way back into contention: he crossed the line just half a second behind his team-mate.
Rising Renault star Fernando Alonso was the third Michelin driver gunning for victory. The Spaniard caught the leading trio with 10 laps of the race to go and shadowed them almost all the way to the line. "I'm happy with the result, espacially because If inished the race in the leading group. Fpr the first time this year, we were really fighting for the win, and was a good feeling!"
Michelin drivers claimed six of the top eight positions. After his accident in yesterday's qualifying session, pre-race points leader Kimi Räikkönen opted to start from the pit lane and battled his way through the field to finish sixth. He is now three points adrift of Schumacher in the title race. Today's result is not a disaster at all and the gap to Michaël is only three points with plenty more races to go."
From 11th on the grid, his team-mate David Coulthard worked his way into a strong points-scoring position before a gearbox problem forced him to stop.
Mark Webber (Jaguar) ran as high as fifth in the early stages but eventually came in seventh -- his third points finish of the season -- and Frenchman Olivier Panis (Toyota) overcame a run of poor reliability to finish eighth and score his first point of the campaign.
Of the other Michelin drivers, Cristiano da Matta (Toyota) was running eighth when his car stopped with five laps remaining. Antonio Pizzonia (Jaguar) ran into Jarno Trulli (Renault) on the opening lap. He pitted for repairs and restarted, but a technical problem forced him to stop before the end and he was classified 10th, four laps down. Trulli's car was also damaged and he, too, had to pit. Although he rejoined, a damaged tyre and a spin subsequently delayed him before he eventually retired.
Pierre Dupasquier -- Michelin Motorsport Director
BY FAR THE FASTEST
Michelin drivers filled six of the top eight places in today's Canadian Grand Prix. Pole position qualifier Ralf Schumacher (BMW WilliamsF1 Team) was second, ahead of Juan Pablo Montoya (BMW WilliamsF1 Team, third), Fernando Alonso (Renault, fourth), Kimi Räikkönen (Team McLaren Mercedes, sixth), Mark Webber (Jaguar, seventh) and Olivier Panis (Toyota, eighth). Michelin motorsport director Pierre Dupasquier said: "Michelin might not have won this race today, but I think it's clear that our cars were the qui ckest on the track -- Fernando Alonso's fastest lap was a measure of our potential."
STRENGTH IN DEPTH
Pierre Dupasquier was buoyed by his tyres' performance on the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. He said: "When one of your teams performs well, people underline how good the chassis must be and the tyre is credited with playing a contributory role. When several p artner teams run so strongly, it emphasises what a good job the tyres are doing. The Williams drivers and Fernando Alonso were both potentially faster than Michael Schumacher -- and Kimi Räikkönen's McLaren looked very fast, too, given his one-stop fuel lo ad. In purely technical terms, this was an incredibly strong race for us."
Jarno Trulli (Renault) and world championship contender Kimi Räikkönen (McLaren-Mercedes) both suffered tyre damage during today's race. Michelin F1 project chief Pascal Vasselon said: "Trulli's tyre lost pressure because he suffered valve damage in a firs t-lap collision. As for Räikkönen, he ran over a piece of debris that cut into the tyre. He had been losing pressure slowly for a lap before the tread peeled off. It has been seen on the pressure management system."
GETTING A GRIP AROUND THE WORLD
In addition to its strong performance in Canada, Michelin has celebrated several major motor sport successes this weekend. Its tyres were fitted to the Bentleys that finished first and second in the Le Mans 24 Hours. Michelin cars took the top ten places o verall. On two wheels, Loris Capirossi (Moto GP, Barcelona) and Neil Hodgson (Superbike World Championship, Silverstone) also scored notable victories.