ALONSO AND MICHELIN TRIUMPH AGAIN Fernando Alonso (Renault) swept to a stunning victory in the Bahraini Grand Prix at Sakhir to score Michelin& ...
ALONSO AND MICHELIN TRIUMPH AGAIN
Fernando Alonso (Renault) swept to a stunning victory in the Bahraini Grand Prix at Sakhir to score Michelins fourth straight Formula One success and extend the companys unbeaten start to 2005. The result increases the Spaniards world championship lead to 10 points.
After securing pole position on Sunday morning, Alonso made a terrific start to beat closest challenger Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) off the line. The Renault driver held the German driver comfortably at bay during the opening stages of the race and his task was simplified from the 12th lap onwards, after a hydraulic problem forced Schumacher to retire.
From then on, Alonso was able to run at a controlled pace as he swept to his second consecutive F1 victory. It was the third of his fledgling career and Michelins 78th. He said: My car has been perfect all weekend and we have made no mistakes. If we can avoid mechanical problems, I think we will be hard to beat this year.
Pat Symonds, executive director of engineering, Mild Seven Renault F1 Team, added: We need to thank Michelin : the tyres were really put to the test this weekend, with track temperatures over 50°C. Once again, the tyres were excellent in every area: they were quick over one lap, and consistent all the way through the race.
It was also a fantastic moment in Renaults sporting history: this success marked the hundredth win for a Renault engine in Formula 1, the twentieth for a Renault chassis, and this win is the first time in history that a Renault chassis has won three consecutive races.
Patrick Faure, Chairman and CEO, Mild Seven RenaultF1 Team, was at the track and wanted to congratulate his driver and the technical partners: Fernando Alonso has driven exceptionally well in all three races this season, but I would also like to pay tribute to the excellent work done by our principal technical partners Michelin with its tyres and Elf with its lubricants. Both companies have done a brilliant job and have played a major part in our recent success. This is a real team sport and we must never forget as much.
Williams drivers Mark Webber and Nick Heidfeld ran fourth and fifth initially, ahead of Ralf Schumacher (Toyota) and Räikkönen, but Heidfeld retired with engine failure shortly after his first scheduled stop and Webber spun from third to fifth with about one third of the race remaining.
By then, Räikkönen had already vaulted the younger Schumacher during the first round of stops and was perfectly poised to capitalise on Webbers error. Ralf eventually took fourth place, while McLaren stand-in Pedro de la Rosa deputising for the injured Juan Pablo Montoya had a spirited run to fifth.
De la Rosa lost time battling with the B*A*R-Honda drivers during the first two thirds of the race when he twice outbraked himself while trying to gain positions but he recovered brilliantly and set the afternoons fastest lap during his vigorous pursuit of Webber, which reaped dividends on the 55th of 57 laps.
Jarno Trulli proved that his renowned qualifying expertise are backed up by strong and committed race drives as he powered his way to a second successive podium finish. Jarno has jumped to second in the drivers championship. I am so pleased with the result. The car performed amazingly well, it was quick and reliable with no issues whatsoever. The braking, cooling, Michelin tyres, engine, everything worked well. said the Italian.
Michelin drivers took all eight points-scoring positions. Felipe Massa finished seventh for Sauber his and the teams first points of the campaign and David Coulthard (Red Bull) maintained his 100 per cent scoring record for the season after passing Rubens Barrichellos ailing Ferrari in the final moments.
A couple of laps earlier, the Scot survived a clash with Jacques Villeneuve an incident that denied the former world champion his best result since he returned to the sport. Rear suspension damage forced the French- Canadian to pit, although he was still classified 11th.
B*A*R team-mates Takuma Sato and Jenson Button both retired with technical problems while challenging for points finishes. The unfortunate Christian Klien (Red Bull/Michelin) qualified seventh, but retired before the start because of an electrical failure.
Pierre Dupasquier, Michelin motorsport director:
When we first saw the 2005 Formula One tyre rules, our engineers knew they were taking on a difficult challenge and Id like to compliment all of them on a job well done. Our unbeaten start to the season has been a source of great satisfaction. It reflects very well on our technical expertise.
Todays race was very demanding, because of the extreme temperatures, and we witnessed a number of fascinating battles involving all of our partner teams. It is clear that tyre-wear rates differed from car to car, but none of the Michelin runners had any problem racing hard all the way to the flag.
This has not been an easy weekend the increased pace of Michael Schumacher saw to that but we produced a package that had a clear edge in an extremely competitive situation. We will spare no effort to maintain the upper hand when the world championship returns to Europe later this month.
Pat Symonds, executive director of engineering, Renault F1 Team:
The conditions this weekend have been a real test for tyres, with track temperatures consistently topping 50 degrees, but once again Michelin delivered. Its tyres were quick over one lap and consistent in the race. They gave everything we can ask of a racing tyre.