The Formula One world championship's first 18-race season comes to an end in South America this weekend. It marks another landmark event because Brazil has never previously hosted the sport's annual finale. Brazil has a special place in Michelin...
The Formula One world championship's first 18-race season comes to an end in South America this weekend. It marks another landmark event because Brazil has never previously hosted the sport's annual finale.
Brazil has a special place in Michelin history: on January 29 1978, Carlos Reutemann (Ferrari) scored the company's maiden F1 grand prix success at the Jacarepagua circuit in Rio de Janeiro. It was also a first for the radial tyre technology that prevails in the sport to this day.
Michelin has since increased its F1 world championship victory tally to 74 and there have been further Brazilian GP triumphs with René Arnoux (Renault, 1980), Reutemann (Williams, 1981), Alain Prost (Renault, 1982 and McLaren, 1984) and Nelson Piquet (Brabham, 1983).
Brazil has been a permanent fixture on the F1 calendar since 1973: this will be the country's 32nd world championship grand prix and the 22nd at Interlagos.
Pierre Dupasquier, Michelin motorsport director:
"Interlagos is one of the most exciting venues on the grand prix calendar - partly because its unusual, anti-clockwise layout offers several potential overtaking spots, partly because of the vibrant atmosphere."
"Michelin has performed exceptionally well here since it returned to F1 after a 17-year sabbatical, but the history books don't reflect as much. Juan Pablo Montoya dominated in 2001 until a lapped car pushed him off the track, Ralf Schumacher was a very close second in 2002 and last season our drivers controlled the race in monsoon conditions before a bizarre sequence of circumstances conspired to deny us."
"I am confident that we will once again provide our partners with tyres that are capable of challenging for victory. As previous experience shows, however, that on its own isn't always enough."
Pascal Vasselon, Michelin F1 programme manager:
"Although the race is taking place almost seven months later than usual, weather conditions are unlikely to be very different - and that means heavy rain is always a distinct possibility."
"If you get mixed wet/dry conditions at Interlagos, you find that a number of rivers accumulate at certain points on the circuit. These areas remain very damp, even when the rest of the circuit has dried out. I'm sure lots of people remember the F1 scrap yard that developed between Turns Three and Four during last season's corresponding race."
"In dry conditions, the track surface is very abrasive and wear rates are high. It is consequently very tricky to produce tyres that will be consistent over a long run. Furthermore, qualifying times tend to be very close and you need to be aware that losing a tenth of a second could cost you several places on the grid. So, a conservative approach has to be avoided."
"We will have a relatively large number of dry-weather tyre options - four, to be exact - and it will be very interesting to analyse their performance on Friday, when teams have to finalise their race selections."
Ricardo Zonta, Panasonic Toyota Racing/Michelin:
"Even though Interlagos is a permanent circuit, which gets lots of use, it can be very dirty on the Friday of an F1 weekend - and that makes it more difficult to draw any firm conclusions about tyre choice for the rest of the weekend."
"The Brazilian Grand Prix is my home event and I am looking forward to driving in front of all the fans who always turn out in force to support us. I hope that everybody at Panasonic Toyota Racing and Michelin can end the season the best way possible."