US GP: Michelin Saturday notes

COULTHARD HEADS MICHELIN ARMADA World champion Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) recorded his sixth pole position of the season and the 49th of his Formula One career during qualifying for the United States GP. The German posted a 1m 10.790s -- the...

COULTHARD HEADS MICHELIN ARMADA

World champion Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) recorded his sixth pole position of the season and the 49th of his Formula One career during qualifying for the United States GP. The German posted a 1m 10.790s -- the fastest lap ever seen at the Indianapolis road course. Schumacher was 0.268s faster than team-mate Rubens Barrichello, who needs to finish only fourth in the race to secure second place in the world championship. Ferrari last scored such a one-two in 1979, when Jody Scheckter and Gilles Villeneuve dominated the world championship on Michelin tyres. David Coulthard (McLaren-Mercedes) was fastest of Michelin's current partner drivers.

David had an engine change prior to qualifying and made good use of his fresh Mercedes V10 to pip Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams-BMW) to third place right at the end of the session. "it's nice to qualify well here at Indianapolis ad hopefully we should be able to perform in tomorrow's race." said David. "Now we are aiming to maintain the pace in tomorrow's race, where tyres will be play an important role."

The Colombian, Juan Pablo (BMW Williamsf1 Team), won the Indianapolis 500 in 2000 and hopes to become the first driver to win races on Indy's famous oval and the road course. He missed out third position at the last moment by one thousandth of a second and will therefore start from position four, in front of team mate Ralf Schumacher. "Tomorrow I am starting my race from the dirty side of the track and this is not really helpful. But this is arcing. Today we just could get a good balance. I think at the moment we just haven't got the speed to beat Ferrari." said the Colombian.Ralf Schumacher qualified fifth fastest (BMW Williamsf1 Team) "It is very difficult to find the right balance for the car here. I had continuous set-up problems. The tyres were all right and I think they are also looking quite good for tomorrow" said Schumacher junior.

Kimi Raikkonen (West McLaren-Mercedes) posted the sixth fastest time with 1'11''633. Kimi completed qualifying in his T-car following an accident during this morning's free practice, which saw the Finn going off the track and damaging the front suspension. Jarno Trulli (Renault, eighth) lapped within half a second of Coulthard and completed the list of five Michelin runners on the top 10.

Of the other Michelin drivers, Eddie Irvine (Jaguar) was an impressive third fastest in this morning's final free practice but was 0.6 seconds slower in qualifying and slipped to 13th.He headed Jenson Button (Renault, 14th), Allan McNish (Toyota, 16th), Pedro de la Rosa (Jaguar, 17th), Mark Webber (KL Minardi-Asiatech, 18th), Mika Salo (Toyota, 19th) and Alex Yoong (KL Minardi-Asiatech, 20th). Yoong almost matched Webber's pace in the early part of the session but spun into the barriers on his second run and took no further part in the session.

Michelin's day : Pierre Dupasquier (Motorsport Director)

Michelin has taken seven pole positions this season but did not make its customary challenge for top spot today. How do you react to today's qualifying session?"

It went pretty much as we expected, to be honest, although there were one or two surprises. The margin between the two McLaren drivers is a little bigger than usual, for instance, and Jaguar has fallen off the pace since this morning for reasons that we have yet to ascertain. I have to congratulate David Coulthard on his excellent run at the end of the session because the track conditions didn't improve a great deal and most of the best times were set early on, when it was cooler. His was a very good lap."

Will we see both your harder, primary (A) tyre and the softer option (B) in the race?

"No. The pattern today was the same as that we saw yesterday. One of our two dry-weather compounds proved to be fast and consistent in equal measure and all our partner teams have opted to use it in the race."

How do you feel about your prospects for the race?

"I am quietly optimistic. This year it has often been the case that race results don't reflect what we have seen in qualifying and obviously I hope that might happen again this weekend. Our tyres look to be in very good shape for the race because they are very stable over long runs. We have no concerns at all about durability."

This is traditionally a one-stop race. Have you seen anything to make you think things might be different this season?

"You never know. Single-stop strategies have always been favoured here in the past but simulations show it would not be an outrageous gamble to attempt pitting twice."

-michelin-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Ferrari , Mercedes , McLaren , Williams , Minardi