VIVA JARNO & ...
VIVA JARNO TRULLI ON TOP AS MICHELIN DRIVERS DOMINATE
Jarno Trulli (Toyota/Michelin) has taken provisional pole position for tomorrows Spanish Grand Prix. His searing 1m 14.811s lap put him just 0.016s clear of local favourite and world championship leader Fernando Alonso (Renault/Michelin). Kimi Räikkönen (Team McLaren Mercedes) overcame an early starting slot, when track conditions are theoretically slower, to complete a Michelin 1-2-3 with three different chassis.
Several other Michelin drivers are strongly placed as the company seeks to maintain its unbeaten start to the Formula One season. Ralf Schumacher (Toyota) was fourth ahead of Nick Heidfeld (BMW WilliamsF1 Team, fifth), Mark Webber (BMW WilliamsF1 Team, sixth), Giancarlo Fisichella (Renault, eighth) and David Coulthard (Red Bull Racing, 10th).
Ralf Schumacher (Toyota/Michelin) set fastest time in Saturday mornings final free practice sessions a 1m 14.280s. McLaren/Michelin team-mates Kimi Räikkönen and Juan Pablo Montoya who has suffered no ill-effects after his sizeable accident yesterday were second and third respectively. Montoya qualified only 12th this afternoon, however.
Nick Heidfeld (Williams-BMW/Michelin) and Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari) both face 10-position grid penalties as a consequence of unscheduled engine changes this weekend. David Coulthard (Red Bull/Michelin) and Narain Kathikeyan (Jordan) have both been fined for pit lane speeding infringements at the Circuit de Catalunya. Karthikeyans team-mate Tiago Monteiro was summoned by the stewards for failing to heed yellow warning flags, but he escaped with a reprimand.
There has been a sizeable hole in the Barcelona paddock since Friday afternoon. In the wake of its exclusion from the next two rounds of the world championship, the B*A*R-Honda team has packed away its cars and equipment and has returned to its UK base.
Pierre Dupasquier, Michelin motorsport director:
This has been another excellent day for Michelin. Several of our partner teams appear to be in contention for victory and it is immensely satisfying to see them making the most of the tyres at their disposal. We aim to give our partners a performance edge and I think it is clear that we are doing just that."
"This circuits layout places a great deal of strain on rubber particularly the left rear. We know our tyres are capable of providing competitive performance for a full race distance in these conditions, but there are a number of external factors that could have a negative effect. There is a very fine balance to be struck and our engineers will be liaising closely with our partners to minimise the risk of unforeseen problems.
Mike Gascoyne, technical director (chassis), Panasonic Toyota Racing:
Our Michelin tyres have been very good this weekend. The two compounds we evaluated were competitive, but in our case the choice turned out to be fairly straightforward. The Michelins are certainly very consistent on long runs and I am sure that will be the case in tomorrows race.