Austrian GP: Michelin preview

The sixth round of the 2002 FIA Formula One World Championship takes place at the A1-Ring in Zeltweg, Austria. Juan Pablo Montoya (BMW WilliamsF1 Team/Michelin) and David Coulthard (McLaren-Mercedes/Michelin) finished second and third...

The sixth round of the 2002 FIA Formula One World Championship takes place at the A1-Ring in Zeltweg, Austria.

Juan Pablo Montoya (BMW WilliamsF1 Team/Michelin) and David Coulthard (McLaren-Mercedes/Michelin) finished second and third respectively in the previous race, the Spanish GP at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya - but there is not a lot that can be added to the comments that were made in the immediate aftermath of the event.

Michelin motorsport director Pierre Dupasquier says: "Together with our partner teams, we were a second and a half per lap shy of challenging the Ferraris in Spain. A better understanding of our latest tyres and a slightly less conservative approach might have gained us three or four tenths of a second - but even that wouldn't have been enough."

Serpentine but fast with it

Michelin is looking forward to racing again at the A1-Ring in Styrian foothills, where sprawling nature and motor sport come face to face. Last season, buoyed by Ralf Schumacher's victory at Imola and Juan Pablo Montoya's second place in Barcelona, the BMW WilliamsF1 Team arrived in Austria in a positive frame of mind: second and third in qualifying, they were full of optimism for the race - although in the end both drivers had to cede to the Ferraris.

The A1-Ring features a number of long corners through which cars are placed under maximum load for several seconds. It is known as one the most picturesque venues of the season - and also one of the fastest. In terms of track surface it is the complete opp osite of Barcelona because the A1-Ring is smooth and thus very easy on tyres. The grip level is not high - a factor that is particularly amplified if it rains, which it does quite often.

Pierre Dupasquier says: "We have profited from data accumulated during recent races to evolve tyre constructions and compounds that are suited to the very particular characteristics in Austria, and we had chance to test these recently at Valencia in Spain. The two compounds we are bringing might both be described as 'soft' but teams will have no problem with excess wear rate, even if they opt for a single-stop race strategy."

On Sunday the race lasts 71 laps (307.146 km, 190.851 miles) around a track that features a long climb before cars negotiate a string of twists and turns that lead them back to the pit straight, where they will reach a top speed of almost 300 km/h (186.4 m ph).

In this part of the world the weather is just as likely to be very hot at this time of the year as it is very cold. Last year's result was not what Michelin expected and the company believes this weekend's event might throw up a few surprises.

-michelin-

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