SATO BAGS FIRST F1 PODIUM FINISH ON MICHELIN TYRES Michael Schumacher got the better of pole-winning Ferrari team-mate Rubens Barrichello in a dramatic United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis. The German took the lead after the first of two ...
SATO BAGS FIRST F1 PODIUM FINISH ON MICHELIN TYRES
Michael Schumacher got the better of pole-winning Ferrari team-mate Rubens Barrichello in a dramatic United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis. The German took the lead after the first of two safety car periods - caused by a multiple pile-up at the first corner - and held off a fierce late-race challenge from Barrichello to score his eighth win of the season and extend his world championship lead. Takuma Sato (B*A*R-Honda/Michelin) headed the pursuit of Ferrari and netted the maiden podium finish of his F1 career - but he was made to work hard for it.
Sato and team-mate Jenson Button were in a distinct minority when they opted not to refuel during the second safety car period, necessitated when Ralf Schumacher (BMW WilliamsF1 Team/Michelin) crashed heavily at the final corner. It took rescue crews several laps to free the German, who was bruised and shaken but otherwise unhurt. This put the B*A*Rs out of synch with their rivals, but Sato fought his way back through the traffic to take third. Button was ultimately thwarted by a technical problem - the first time this season he has failed to score a point.
Jarno Trulli (Renault/Michelin) started at the back of the field after an electronic problem prevented him posting a qualifying time, but he finished fourth ahead of Olivier Panis (Toyota/Michelin, fifth), Kimi Räikkönen (Team McLaren Mercedes/Michelin, sixth), David Coulthard (Team McLaren Mercedes/Michelin, seventh) and Hungarian Zsolt Baumgartner - who scored the first F1 point of his career and Minardi's first since Australia 2002.
Juan Pablo Montoya (BMW WilliamsF1 Team/Michelin) started from the pit lane in his spare car after his race chassis developed a problem on the grid, but he was disqualified for a procedural error after working his way into the top five.
A late engine failure cost Jaguar/Michelin driver Mark Webber an opportunity to add to his seasonal points tally and there was no joy for the remaining Michelin runners, either. Fernando Alonso (Renault) sprinted from ninth to third at the start, but retired early on when he crashed after a punctured right rear tyre due to debris on the circuit. Cristiano da Matta (Toyota) was plagued by technical problems from the start and Christian Klien (Jaguar) was one of four drivers eliminated at the first corner. Only eight cars were still running at the end of the season's most gruelling event so far.
Pierre Dupasquier, Michelin motorsport director:
"This was a race any one of several Michelin drivers could definitely have won, but the two safety car periods and other circumstances contrived to thwart us. It's a shame, because our tyres have performed extremely well all weekend. They have been fast and consistent in equal measure, and we have had absolutely no blistering problems despite the fierce heat."
"As far as the two accidents early in the race are concerned, Fernando Alonso and Ralf Schumacher suffered deflated right and left rear tyres respectively. We have examined the tyres and it is clear that both were damaged by debris that had been picked up from the track, probably in the wake of the multiple pile-up at the first corner."
Pascal Vasselon, Michelin Formula One programme manager:
"This has been a weekend of mixed emotions. It is very satisfying that our tyres showed a clear technical advantage, but frustrating that reasons beyond our control prevented us from capitalising on the situation. That's motor racing."