Austrian GP Michelin race notes

David Coulthard bounced back from a poor qualifying performance to score his second Formula 1 victory of the season in the Austrian Grand Prix, sixth round of this season's world championship. The Scot lined up only seventh in his...

David Coulthard bounced back from a poor qualifying performance to score his second Formula 1 victory of the season in the Austrian Grand Prix, sixth round of this season's world championship. The Scot lined up only seventh in his McLaren-Mercedes, but he picked his way through the field and profited as several rivals ­ including the Michelin-shod Williams-BMWs ­ ran into technical problems. Coulthard headed home Ferrari drivers Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello, who moved over and waved his championship-leading team-mate through at the final corner. Coulthard has cut Schumacher's series lead to just four points. "If I was going to win today," he said, "I thought it would be because there was a big pile-up at the first corner. That didn't happen, but I'm delighted with the way things turned out." Coulthard declined to spray champagne on the podium as a mark of respect for Paul Morgan, a partner in the Ilmor Engineering company that designs and builds Mercedes-Benz's F1 engines. Morgan was killed in a plane crash the day before the race.

The BMW WilliamsF1 Team showed great promise in the early stages of the race. Starting second on the grid, Juan Pablo Montoya beat pole position winner Schumacher Snr into the first turn to seize an early advantage. The Colombian has now led two of his first six races in Formula 1. He stayed ahead until lap 17, when he and Schumacher tangled at Turn Two when the German attempted to overtake. They rejoined in sixth and seventh places, but although Montoya recovered to fifth a suspected hydraulics problem forced him to retire with 30 laps to go. "I suddenly wasn't able to change gear any more," he said after pulling off. Ralf Schumacher beat his brother off the line to hold an early second place, but he quit after just 10 laps because of brake problems.

Eddie Irvine was best of the other Michelin runners. His Jaguar finished just out of the points, in seventh place ­ his best finish of the season. The only other Michelin drivers to finish were Prost-Acer drivers Jean Alesi and Luciano Burti, in 10th and 11th places. The other Michelin runners failed to finish. Jenson Button (Mild Seven Benetton Renault Sport) spun off in the closing stages because of an engine problem and a variety of technical problems accounted for Pedro de la Rosa (Jaguar Racing), Giancarlo Fischella (Mild Seven Benetton Renault Sport) and European Minardi drivers Fernando Alonso and Tarso Marques. The race got off to a slow start. The Safety Car neutralised the field for the first three laps because four drivers ­ Mika Hakkinen (McLaren), Nick Heidfeld (Sauber) and Jordan team-mates Jarno Trulli and Henz-Harald Frentzen ­ stalled on the grid.

Pierre Dupasquier (Motorsport Director) :
How the Michelin drivers fared

"We are a little bit disappointed that neither of the quickest two Michelin runners made the finish, but we are happy with our level of performance throughout the weekend. Our choice of compounds proved to be correct and that has encouraged us to carry on in the same vein. I would like to congratulate Williams and BMW for the strength of their performance in Austria this weekend."

Was it a tyre problem that caused Montoya's loss of pace?

"From the ninth lap until the 15th Juan Pablo's lap times faded a little, and that could partially be blamed on the state of his tyres. But we had foreseen that this might be the case: the grooved tyres are at their best when new. There follows a significant drop-off in performance after which they recover their potential. The tyres chosen by Williams were particularly sensitive to this characteristic. Juan Pablo set some good times at the start of the race before slowing a little, but then he picked up his pace again. Before his retirement he had set the second fastest lap of the race behind Michael Schumacher, and despite not finishing he retained fourth fastest lap overall."

What was wear-rate like today?

"A good number of teams chose our quicker tyre, even though they knew they would be hard-pressed to maintain peak performance throughout the race. Ultimately things went better than we had expected, because our rival's tyres looked as though they were in the same condition as ours at the end of each stint."

How are you preparing for Monaco?

"This is a race like no other. It is completely unknown to us, a situation we are quite used to this season. We will be testing at five different circuits in the coming week!"

Following today's race, will you be encouraged to continue on your current, slightly non-conformist path, despite the increased risk in technical terms?

"Montoya was very competitive today, so it is clear that we are working along the right lines."

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Ferrari , Mercedes , Sauber , McLaren , Williams , Benetton Formula , Minardi , Jaguar Racing , Jordan