RÃ„IKKÃ–NEN TOPS MICHELIN RUNNERS AS F1 FINALE SWINGS INTO ACTION Kimi RÃ¤ikkÃ¶nen (Team McLaren Mercedes) headed the Michelin challenge on the opening day of the Formula One season's Brazilian finale. Despite a spin early in the day's second -...
RÄIKKÖNEN TOPS MICHELIN RUNNERS AS F1 FINALE SWINGS INTO ACTION
Kimi Räikkönen (Team McLaren Mercedes) headed the Michelin challenge on the opening day of the Formula One season's Brazilian finale. Despite a spin early in the day's second - and fastest - session, the Finn bounced back to be third quickest on 1m 11.526s. Interlagos is one of the shortest tracks on the F1 calendar and lap times were exceptionally close: the fastest 17 drivers were covered by less than 1.5 seconds.
There were nine Michelin drivers - from five partner teams - in the top 12. Jenson Button (B·A·R- Honda) was fourth ahead of Anthony Davidson (B·A·R-Honda, fifth), Takuma Sato (B·A·R-Honda, sixth), Fernando Alonso (Renault, seventh), Ryan Briscoe (Toyota, ninth), Ralf Schumacher (BMW WilliamsF1 Team, 10th), Juan Pablo Montoya (BMW WilliamsF1 Team, 11th) and Jacques Villeneuve (Renault, 12th).
The FIA has announced a raft of F1 rule changes for 2005. A number of aerodynamic modifications will be enforced - including raised front wings - in an effort to reduce downforce. During each race weekend, drivers will be allowed to use a single set of tyres for qualifying and the race and must stick with the same engine for two grands prix at a time.
From 2006, teams will be obliged to use 2.4-litre V8 engines, although the smaller, independent teams may continue to use the existing 3.0 V10s subject to the imposition of a rev limit that has yet to be defined.
Ryan Briscoe (Toyota/Michelin) was second fastest in the morning's opening free practice session - the best performance of the young Australian test driver's F1 career to date. He was also the only Toyota driver not to spin during that session: Jarno Trulli and Ricardo Zonta lost control at Turns Eight and Four respectively, but neither incurred any damage.
Pierre Dupasquier, Michelin motorsport director:
"Lap times are significantly quicker than they were during qualifying for last season's corresponding, but I suspect fuel loads have played at least a part in that. We won't be able to draw a realistic comparison until tomorrow."
"It is certainly true that track conditions are different this year, though. That has more to do with the resurfacing work that has taken place than the fact we are running at a different time of the year. The new parts of the circuit have evolved significantly today and I'm sure they will continue to do so throughout the weekend. There is also a strong chance that rain could further complicate matters on Sunday."