Nick Shorrock, Michelin's F1 programme director, touches base on the Italian GP and last week's testing in Jerez.
Q: Nick, what is your assessment of the tyres' performance at the Italian GP?
Nick Shorrock: Over recent weeks, we have been working very hard in a specific area: our tyres' single-lap performance. After Indianapolis, we noted that our cars were systematically 0.2s slower in qualifying, which had particular consequences for Renault in terms of their ability to put their cars where they needed to, to make their strategies work. We were conscious of this problem, and worked through the summer to try and improve the situation. In Monza, we brought the widest range of tyres of the whole season, and they lived up to expectations.
Q: What is the size of the gain?
NS: I think we have gained between 0.1s and 0.3s over a single lap depending on conditions and the tyres in question, without losing the consistency that has been our strength all year. Kimi Raikkonen finished second and Fernando Alonso would have been third in spite of the penalty that put him down to tenth on the grid. Those were pleasing results.
Q: Where the gains specific to Monza, or can they be transposed onto the final three circuits this year?
NS: They will be relevant of all of them, and that's what makes us optimistic. We tested with our partners last week and confirmed the progress from Monza. In some instances, we actually improved the gain in first lap performance.
Q: There is little testing remaining ahead of Brazil. Are you confident?
NS: Yes. We are testing with Renault at Silverstone this week, and maintaining our aggressive approach. There is some pressure, which is normal when you are working with a team fighting for the championship. Now, the title race will come down to three Grands Prix. We are trying to give Renault a decisive advantage, but that's not all. We need to make sure BMW finish ahead of Toyota in the Constructors' Championship, and that Raikkonen and (Giancarlo) Fisichella beat (Felipe) Massa in the Drivers' standings.