Australian GP: Michelin preview

AUTUMN SHOULD SUIT MICHELIN Formula One teams complete the first leg of their 18-race season this weekend at Albert Park, Melbourne - the third race of the campaign and the last before the sport returns to its traditional European ...

AUTUMN SHOULD SUIT MICHELIN

Formula One teams complete the first leg of their 18-race season this weekend at Albert Park, Melbourne - the third race of the campaign and the last before the sport returns to its traditional European heartland.

This will be the 22nd Australian Grand Prix and the 11th in Melbourne. The first 11 took place in Adelaide, between 1985 and 1995, when the race established a foothold as the sport's annual finale. In 1996, the switch to Albert Park - where the circuit roads are used by everyday traffic for 51 weeks per year - coincided with a new slot as the opening race of the campaign. That role was only relinquished this season because of a clash with the recent Commonwealth Games, which also took place in the city.

Albert Park was the venue for Michelin's F1 return in 2001, after a 17-year sabbatical, and the company has scored two victories here since. David Coulthard (McLaren Mercedes) headed a Bibendum 1-2-3 in 2003 and Giancarlo Fisichella (Renault) won last season's corresponding fixture.

Michelin is unbeaten in the sport so far this year, in the wake of impressive victories in Bahrain and Malaysia, and this weekend the company will be chasing its 96th F1 world championship success as it edges ever closer to its landmark centenary.

Michelin's view
Nick Shorrock, Formula One director, Michelin:

"After our uccesses in the heat of Bahrain and the intense humidity of Malaysia, we anticipate very different circumstances at Albert Park. That holds no worries, though - as we proved last year, we are accustomed to mastering a wide range of conditions."

"The Melbourne race is slightly later in the year than usual. It will be autumn in Australia and track temperatures should be the coolest we have come across so far this season. Together with our partners we have, as usual, worked hard to develop suitable products - we will be using slightly softer compounds than we did for the previous two races, in order to generate optimum temperatures and minimise the risk of graining at a track that subjects tyres to significant lateral loads. In total, we will have eight dry-weather options available for our six partner teams."

Team perspective
Christian Horner, sporting director, Red Bull Racing:

"Red Bull Racing has achieved an awful lot since making its Formula One debut in Australia little more than 12 months ago. When we arrived in Melbourne last year, I don't think anybody could have envisaged what lay ahead."

"Since then we have established our credibility as a serious racing team and Michelin has done a superb job for us. In 2005 its tyres were clearly the class of the field and this year, in the face of heightened competition, it is once again in very good shape. I'm very happy with the service we receive."

-michelin-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Giancarlo Fisichella , David Coulthard
Teams Red Bull Racing , Mercedes , McLaren