RÄIKKÖNEN LEADS MICHELIN'S IMPRESSIVE MONZA ONSLAUGHT
Kimi Räikkönen (McLaren Mercedes/Michelin) secured his third pole position of the season and the 11th of his Formula One career during qualifying for tomorrow's Italian Grand Prix. The Finn lapped grand prix racing's oldest European venue in a searing 1m 21.484s to pip Michael Schumacher by 0.002s.
Eight Michelin drivers made it through to the final top 10 shoot-out. Nick Heidfeld (BMW Sauber) was third a seasonal best ahead of world championship leader Fernando Alonso (Renault, fifth), Jenson Button (Honda, sixth), Robert Kubica (BMW Sauber, seventh), Pedro de la Rosa (McLaren Mercedes, eighth), Rubens Barrichello (Honda, ninth) and Giancarlo Fisichella (Renault, 10th).
Nick Shorrock, Michelin F1 director:
"We have had a productive weekend so far and, slowly but surely, have worked with our partners to fine-tune tyre performance. There will be six different Michelin products on the grid tomorrow a mixture of primes and options and the range of technical specifications is as wide as we have seen all season."
"It is very pleasing to have eight cars in the top 10 and I'd like to compliment Kimi Räikkönen on the excellent lap that yielded Michelin's 110th F1 pole position. There were other significant performances too, not least Nick Heidfeld's third place for BMW Sauber and Fernando Alonso's spirited effort to take fifth place in a car that suffered significant damage when a rear tyre suddenly deflated. We have yet to establish what caused that and are looking into it with Renault."
"Our intensive efforts to improve first-lap pace appears to have paid off and our long-run speed and consistency has been encouraging throughout the weekend. We are poised for a fascinating race."
Martin Whitmarsh, CEO Formula One, Team McLaren Mercedes:
"Kimi Räikkönen put in a couple of great laps and we're delighted with pole position. We're looking forward to a very interesting Italian Grand Prix. I believe we have a strong race set-up and we're very pleased with the latest tyres we've developed in partnership with Michelin. They were good in qualifying and I'm confident they will be equally good over a race stint."