SEVENTH PODIUM OF THE SEASON FOR MONTOYA Michael Schumacher added to his growing tally of Formula One records with a dominant display in the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa, his favourite track. He scored his first F1 victory here 10 years ago: this...
SEVENTH PODIUM OF THE SEASON FOR MONTOYA
Michael Schumacher added to his growing tally of Formula One records with a dominant display in the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa, his favourite track. He scored his first F1 victory here 10 years ago: this was his 63rd and it made him the first man ever to have won 10 races in the course of a single season. Schumacher started from pole position and was never seriously challenged. After building up a huge lead he slowed down in the final stages and beat team-mate Rubens Barrichello by 1.9 seconds. Juan Pablo Montoya (BMW WilliamsF1 Team) was best of the Michelin runners, in third place.
The Colombian made a strong start from fifth on the grid to run fourth at the start, right behind second-fastest qualified Kimi Räikkönen (McLaren-Mercedes/Michelin), and he moved up to the third when the Finn ran wide on lap two. Montoya held his position until the end despite pressure from McLaren star David Coulthard, who passed Räikkönen during the first round of refuelling stops.
Of the remaining Michelin finishers Ralf Schumacher (BMW WilliamF1 Team) finished fifth despite a spin and Eddie Irvine (Jaguar, sixth) gave his team its first championship point since the opening race of the year in Australia. Toyota drivers Mika Salo and Allan McNish were seventh and 10th respectively -- but they were the only other Michelin drivers to last the distance in a race of real attrition. A late spate of retirements meant that only 11 of the 20 starters finished.
Pedro de la Rosa (Jaguar) confirmed Jaguar's improved form by running close to Irvine and Salo until an apparent rear suspension problem caused him to stop in the closing stages. Räikkönen was running fifth behind Coulthard when his engine blew on lap 36. Seconds later Jarno Trulli (Renault) retired with a technical problem on his car while running sixth. His team-mate Jenson Button was lying ninth when he was similarly afflicted earlier on. Anthony Davidson (KL Minardi-Asiatech) performed creditably again on his second grand prix appearance, but he spun off at Pouhon just before half-distance. His team-mate Mark Webber ran ahead of Davidson initially, right on the tail of Olivier Panis's BAR-Honda, but gearbox problems forced him to pull off on his lap five.
Michelin's day -- Pierre Dupasquier, motorsport director:
What conclusions have you drawn from today's race?
"We learned that the dry-weather tyres we brought this weekend were well suited to Spa-Francorchamps. Both types were used in the race and they produced a very similar level of performance. For instance McLaren drivers David Coulthard and Kimi Räikkönen used different compounds and they proved to be fairly evenly matched."
What was the main difference between your primary (A) and your option (B) tyres?
"The interesting thing is that the tyres came from different 'families' in terms of compound and they provided an equally strong level of performance, which was pretty much as we expected. Furthermore, we had no problems with wear."
Pascal Vasselon, Formula One project Manager:
In the race we saw that Michelin's partner teams monopolised most of the 12 places...
"We were very happy with the way our tyres performed -- and so were our partner teams. Our tyres helped Jaguar to put in a very strong points-scoring performance and Toyota had a good race too."
This weekend Michelin proved to be consistently competitive in both qualifying and the race...
"Absolutely. Both our dry-weather compounds were well suited to Spa throughout the weekend, no matter what fuel loads cars were running."