Japanese GP: Michelin preview

The 17th and final round of the Formula One World Championship takes place this coming weekend at Suzuka, Japan. Michelin drivers performed strongly during the previous event in Indianapolis. David Coulthard (West McLaren-Mercedes/Michelin) ...

The 17th and final round of the Formula One World Championship takes place this coming weekend at Suzuka, Japan.

Michelin drivers performed strongly during the previous event in Indianapolis. David Coulthard (West McLaren-Mercedes/Michelin) finished third and Juan Pablo Montoya (BMW WilliamsF1 Team/ Michelin) followed him across the line, despite being delayed by a collision with his team-mate early in the race. Michelin motorsport director Pierre Dupasquier says: "Unfortunately a number of incidents prevented our most competitive cars from showing their full potential. Even so, we were very satisfied with the way our tyres performed and they proved to be well suited to Indianapolis's unique track conditions."

Next stop: the land of the rising sun

Suzuka is a fast, winding track. Cars require plentiful aerodynamic grip and a firm suspension set-up to provide maximum stability at very high speeds. This unusual circuit is effectively a 5.830-kilometre (3.623-mile) figure of eight and drivers will average about 210 km/h (130 mph) during the 53-lap race. A strong qualifying performance is vital because overtaking is notoriously difficult.

Michelin motorsport director Pierre Dupasquier enjoys racing at Suzuka and says: "This is an unusual venue and previous experience is a definite advantage if you want to get the most from it.

"Suzuka is a fairly balanced circuit, which partly stems from its figure-of-eight layout, and tyre wear tends to be fairly even from right to left. It is another of those tracks that demands a fine compromise when it comes to set-up, because you need strong straight-line speed but also have to run a considerable amount of downforce to maximise grip.

"The surface is fairly abrasive and we will be bringing dry-weather compounds from the harder end of our range. One of them has already been used this season and the other has been tested extensively but hasn't previously been pressed into service during a race weekend. We did some more development work on it recently. Tyre pressures will also be a factor. We want our partner teams' cars to be as stable as possible in high-speed corners and will adjust pressures as necessary to increase tyre stiffness.

"A combination of high fuel consumption and excessive tyre wear traditionally make this a two-stop race. What's more, heavy fuel loads tend to slow cars considerably - every 10kg adds about 0.4 seconds to a lap."

-michelin-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Mercedes , McLaren , Williams