German GP: Michelin preview

Title race remains wide open Having given a good account of themselves in the ultra-competitive British Grand Prix a fortnight ago, Michelin's five partner teams will regroup this weekend in Germany for the 12th round of the Formula One World ...

Title race remains wide open

Having given a good account of themselves in the ultra-competitive British Grand Prix a fortnight ago, Michelin's five partner teams will regroup this weekend in Germany for the 12th round of the Formula One World Championship.

The track was resurfaced and completely redesigned ahead of last season's race, so tyre manufacturers had precious little valid data available.

Michelin motorsport director Pierre Dupasquier says: "Last year our Hockenheim range was developed in accordance with tests our teams had done to simulate lap times and probable tyre loads. It was a comparative exercise and we had to rely more on calculated guesswork than we did at other, familiar tracks."

"Now, however, we have acclimatised to the latest version of Hockenheim. It has lost much of its old character but remains unlike many other circuits. It doesn't present any obvious pitfalls and generally it is a fairly fast track with a wide variety of different corners. Some of these are quick but there are also slower sectors, for instance in the stadium section."

"We are confident that we will provide our partner teams with tyres that will enable them to maximise their chassis' full potential."

"A number of people seemed to think that Silverstone marked some kind of turning point in the evolution of this year's world championship, but I don't see things like that at all. The current world championship leader was unable to steal a march on his key rivals and the title race remains refreshingly open."

"I think the German GP could be even more absorbing than the enthralling race we watched at Silverstone two weeks ago.!"

Technically speaking, With Pascal Vasselon (F1 programme manager)

Tyre possibilities
"For Hockenheim, the most critical element of tyre choice isn't the circuit layout or the quality of the track resurfacing. We have to bear in mind the probability of extremely high temperatures. In addition, this is a venue at which front and rear tyres tend to be subjected to a fairly even rate of wear."

Evolution of the species
"Last year the revised Hockenheim had hardly been used at all before the grand prix and so the track was very dirty -- especially if you ventured off line during the opening free practice session. This year things ought to be more stable because new surfaces tend to evolve massively during their first few months before things settle down. As a result, I expect the track to be less abrasive this season."

Home on the range
"We completed our pre-Hockenheim preparations during the last round of testing before the mid-summer ban came into force. Our partners settled on two different kinds of dry-weather tyre -- of which one is brand new -- for this race. All of the available tyres will come from the medium sector of our range."

What are tyre profiles and contact patches?
"A tyre's profile is its exterior shape, viewed from the side. This is easily visible to the human eye. The profile functions in conjunction with the tyre's internal construction to generate a contact patch once a car puts the tyre under load. The way this contact patch works in relation to the track -- the manner in which it responds and generates grip -- isn't something you can simply work out in your head. Rather, you have to use powerful computing tools to understand and analyse such data."

Stop tips
"Teams were plotting two-stop strategies last season and this year I think we'll see cars coming at least two times and possibly three. Each pit visit costs about 30 seconds, in total."

Weights and measures
"The penalty for a heavy fuel load equates to about 0.3 seconds per lap for every extra 10kg on board."

-michelin-

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