Australian GP: Michelin preview

Pace with added durability: Michelin confronts every challenge Formula One& ...

Pace with added durability: Michelin confronts every challenge

Formula One’s four-month racing sabbatical comes to an end this weekend – and the 2005 Australian Grand Prix heralds more than just a new world championship season. It marks the dawn of a new era because drivers are now obliged to use a single set of tyres for a full grand prix distance – a tactic that has been absent from F1 since the early 1980s.

Host venue Albert Park is not a permanent racetrack but has a distinguished motor racing heritage. It hosted several non-championship Australian GPs during the 1950s – British legend Stirling Moss was among the winners – but faded into disuse towards the end of that decade.

The sport did not return until 1996, when Melbourne won the right to stage Australia’s annual round of the F1 world championship (first established in Adelaide in 1985, one year after Michelin ended its original stint in F1). This year’s event will be the 21st Australian GP to count towards the world championship and the 10th to take place in Melbourne.

Since returning to F1 in 2001, Michelin has scored one victory in Albert Park – David Coulthard (Team McLaren Mercedes) led a spectacular Bibendum 1-2-3 in 2003. In last season’s corresponding fixture, Fernando Alonso (Renault) was Michelin’s leading runner, in third place.

Pierre Dupasquier, Michelin motorsport director:

“We face a host of unanswered questions as we prepare for the opening race of the season in Melbourne. How will the latest tyre regulations affect wear rates and consistency in the heat of competition? I’ll tell you once the chequered flag has dropped on Sunday afternoon!"

“We made very encouraging progress during our final pre-season tests in Spain, where we achieved some excellent lap times, but we don’t yet know how that will translate to Melbourne".

“The roads in Albert Park are open to local traffic for most of the year, so the track is usually dirty and slippery when F1 cars first venture out. Traditionally, the grip level picks up quite quickly as F1 rubber is laid down, but that process might take rather longer this year."

"With drivers restricted to one set of tyres per race, we are using harder compounds that will leave less rubber on the track."As a result, it is likely that conditions will change less than we are used to between Friday and Sunday.”

Driver perspective:
Mark Webber, BMW WilliamsF1 Team:

"The new regulations have posed a very difficult situation for the tyre manufacturers, in that drivers now have to do all of qualifying and the whole race on the same set of rubber. This makes compound selection very tricky."

"In Melbourne, as with other circuits, we need a tyre with lots of grip but it also has to be very durable - a hard compound - to last the distance. This is something that Michelin and WilliamsF1 have been working on very diligently."


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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Mark Webber , David Coulthard , Fernando Alonso , Stirling Moss
Teams Mercedes , McLaren , Williams