San Marino GP: Michelin preview

MICHELIN TARGETS SOLID TITLE FOUNDATIONS After a short break, the 2006 Formula One world championship continues this weekend at Imola, Italy - home of the San Marino Grand Prix. Imola heralds the dawn of the European season and the return to...

MICHELIN TARGETS SOLID TITLE FOUNDATIONS

After a short break, the 2006 Formula One world championship continues this weekend at Imola, Italy - home of the San Marino Grand Prix. Imola heralds the dawn of the European season and the return to the paddock of the sumptuous motorhomes that serve as teams' mobile HQs at 10 of the season's 18 races.

This will be the 27th F1 world championship event at Imola. It hosted the Italian GP on a one-off basis in 1980 but has held a permanent place on the calendar ever since, following the creation, one year later, of the San Marino GP.

Imola features significantly in Michelin's F1 history. Nelson Piquet (Brabham-Ford Cosworth/Michelin) won the inaugural San Marino GP, on May 3 1981, and Bibendum won here again during its farewell F1 campaign in 1984, with Alain Prost (McLaren-TAG turbo). When the company returned to grand prix racing 17 years later, Ralf Schumacher (Williams-BMW) scored its comeback victory here at Imola.

Michelin won last season's corresponding fixture, after Fernando Alonso (Renault) held off Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) in a thrilling late-race duel, and is this weekend chasing its 14th consecutive F1 world championship success and its 97th in all.

Michelin's view
Nick Shorrock, Formula One director, Michelin:

"Determine future development trends"

"The first three grands prix of the seasonhave been very satisfactory for both Michelin and its partner teams. Our excellent results have been the fruit of dedicated work carried out by Michelin's research and development teams and our F1 partners, factors that have enabled us to build on 2005's spectacular success and make significant progress."

"The analysis of data received from our partner teams is central to our work and allows us to monitor a wide range of elements and, subsequently, to determine future development trends. We have thus been able to evolve new casings and compounds while enhancing the way in which our partners use them."

"New evolution for Imola"

"We are now looking forward to Formula One's European return at Imola, a circuit rich in both tradition and history. The tyres we're bringing to this race need to be able to cope with fierce braking and hard acceleration on a track whose surface varies at almost every bend. In addition, drivers tend to take an aggressive approach here - they make extensive use of the kerbs because that is the key to a quick lap time."

"In last year's corresponding fixture we identified a number of areas that needed to be developed in order to improve our future performance. The development programme in 2006 has taken this into account and our recent tests have been encouraging. We have subsequently selected a range of tyres featuring new compounds in order to respond to the challenges we identified one year ago."

"Rain holds no fears"

"It is conceivable that the first European race of the campaignwill be rain-affected - but that holds no fears for us because we saw the effectiveness of our latest intermediate tyres during the free practice sessions in Australia. Our partners' wet-weather lap times in Melbourne gave us particular cause for satisfaction and underlined just how much progress we have made. Previously, we had only been able to evaluate these tyres during our winter test programme, when circumstances are less representative."

"Intense competition represents motor sport's very essence"

"Michelin might have dominated the first three races of the season, but we appreciate that the opposition remains very strong. Each grand prix represents a whole new challenge. There are no guarantees that the early-season hierarchy will remain settled and we remain focused on building up a successful world title campaign. Moreover, intense competition is exactly what Michelin thrives on - as far as we are concerned it represents motor sport's very essence. Fierce rivalry of this kind enables Michelin to fine- tune its products and demonstrate their true worth."

Team perspective:
Franz Tost, sporting director, Scuderia Toro Rosso:

"Michelin did an unbelievably good job"

"We are really looking forward to our home race in Imola, especially after our decent performance in Australia. On the basis of previous results, we expect to qualify somewhere between 10th and 15th and will fight hard on the track to see where we can go from there."

"Many people like to talk about the advantage we have with our V10 engine, but we know this is not the case. And maybe they forget that one of the main reasons for Scuderia Toro Rosso's performances is the excellent tyre supply!"

"Michelin did an unbelievably good job during the winter and is able to provide us with tyres that work well in all different weather conditions. Tyres can really make a big difference at Imola and Michelin's latest compounds and constructions will improve our traction and braking performance. These are both key factors at this circuit."

-michelin-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Ralf Schumacher , Michael Schumacher , Fernando Alonso , Alain Prost , Nelson Piquet
Teams Ferrari , McLaren , Toro Rosso , Williams