Michelin F1 programme's manager Pascal Vasselon spoke about the exemplary relationship between the tyre manufacturer and the Renault F1 Team in 2003. Q: What is your analysis of the technical partnership between Michelin and Renault in ...
Michelin F1 programme's manager Pascal Vasselon spoke about the exemplary relationship between the tyre manufacturer and the Renault F1 Team in 2003.
Q: What is your analysis of the technical partnership between Michelin and Renault in 2003?
Pascal Vasselon: Quite simple, it was exemplary. We got a real advantage from the team's decision to sign up to the Heathrow Agreement, which allowed Renault to conduct two extra hours of testing on Friday morning in exchange for a limitation in private testing between March and November. Renault was the sole top team to adopt this strategy, and it paid off. Daring to be different and taking risks form part of the Michelin philosophy, and we saw that reflected in Renault's approach to F1.
Q: From a personal point of view, how did you find the championship?
PV: I think everybody at Michelin was thrilled to witness a consistent and regular improvement in performance, during which Renault went from outsider to a regular challenger for the podium. At the start of the season, the R23 showed itself to be competitive on certain types of circuit, a little less so on others. By the end of the summer, it was fighting at the front of the pack on tracks as different as Monza, Indianapolis or Suzuka. The victory at Budapest, a track which didn't really suit Michelin in 2002, is a cherished memory.
Q: The R23B was able to use softer compound tyres. What advantages did this characteristic bring?
PV: We brought between two and four types of tyre to each event, and Renault were often able to run the softest compounds during the race. From Michelin's point of view, the consistency of the R23 and the way it used its tyres allowed us to take full advantage of this ideal compromise.
Q: What are your ambitions for 2004?
PV: We are currently in the process of designing our tyre range for next season. The final round of testing before Suzuka, at Jerez and Silverstone, provided us with some interesting avenues of development in terms of both compounds and constructions. Our overall strategy is to develop different product families, which we will then adapt to the different cars next season. The R23 had excellent handling characteristics this year: we can't wait to test with the next Renault.