West McLaren-Mercedes and Michelin maintained their winning start to the Formula One season but this was no ordinary motor race. Two weeks after scoring his maiden Formula One victory in Malaysia, McLaren's young Finnish star Kimi RÃ¤ikkÃ¶nen ...
West McLaren-Mercedes and Michelin maintained their winning start to the Formula One season but this was no ordinary motor race. Two weeks after scoring his maiden Formula One victory in Malaysia, McLaren's young Finnish star Kimi Räikkönen notched up his second after a dramatic Brazilian Grand Prix. The race was due to run for 71 laps but heavy rain and a series of spectacular accidents forced organisers to stop the event prematurely.
Räikkönen's team-mate David Coulthard emerged at the head of the field after a number of drivers had been eliminated in early accidents most of which were caused by treacherous track conditions in the wake of heavy rain. Victims included Michelin drivers Olivier Panis (Toyota), Antonio Pizzonia (Jaguar) and Juan Pablo Montoya (BMW WilliamsF1 Team), plus world champion Michael Schumacher (Ferrari).
A number of Safety Car periods led to drivers running a variety of strategies and Coulthard made a scheduled refuelling stop at the end of lap 52. Räikkönen took the lead for a lap, but he then ran wide and had to cede his advantage to Giancarlo Fisichella (Jordan-Ford). During the next few minutes, however, seventh-placed Mark Webber (Jaguar/Michelin) crashed heavily at the final corner and third-placed Fernando Alonso (Renault/Michelin) subsequently smashed into the debris. Although the Spaniard was able to release himself from the wreckage following a violent impact, he was taken to the medical centre for observation. Fortunately, he did not suffer any serious injuries.
The race was stopped immediately, at the start of the 55th lap, with Fisichella ahead, but the regulations state that the result should be taken two laps before the red flag is shown, rather than one. Räikkönen was this declared the winner from Fisichella, Alonso, Coulthard, Heinz-Harald Frentzen (Sauber), Jacques Villeneuve (B*A*R Honda), Webber and Jarno Trulli (Renault/Michelin).
Only 10 cars reached the finish and seven them were on Michelin tyres: Ralf Schumacher (BMW WilliamsF1 Team) and Cristiano da Matta (Toyota) completed this list of survivors.
Räikkönen said: "I was perhaps a little bit lucky with the way things worked out today but a win is a win and that's what counts. The conditions were very difficult today and I am pleased with the way things worked out."
Michelin's day -- Pierre Dupasquier Michelin Motorsport Director
HAT TRICK FOR BIBENDUM
"Three races down, three victories for Michelin and McLaren. Today's Brazilian Grand Prix was hardly conventional heavy rain and a number of dramatic accidents saw to that but Kimi Räikkönen picked his way through the debris to notch up his second win in a fortnight and the second of his Formula One career. The Finn extended his world championship lead to nine points. Only 10 cars finished in today's treacherous conditions and seven of them were on Michelin tyres. Fernando Alonso (Renault, third), David Coulthard (McLaren, fourth), Mark Webber (Jaguar, seventh) and Jarno Trulli (Renault, eighth) all scored points. Alonso and Webber were involved in spectacular accidents at the final corner and that led to the race being stopped early and the result declared after 53 of the 71 scheduled laps."
WET, WET, WET
"This year's Formula One regulations allow manufacturers to supply only one type of wet-weather tyre per grand prix. Michelin motorsport director Pierre Dupasquier was delighted with the way his company's tyres coped with the conditions but believes circumstances prevented their full potential being revealed. He says: Given the rules, it is essential to anticipate what kind of wet weather you might encounter. Our previous experience of Brazil indicated that the rain tends to be very heavy and we had anticipated conditions such as today's. Unfortunately, our rival brought an intermediate tyre that was less suited to heavy rain and at the start the FIA very wisely kept the Safety Car running until conditions were suitable for both types of tyre. That was a sensible safety measure but it counted against us in some ways, because we couldn't reap the benefits of our advantage on a fully-wet track."
HAPPY TO STAY SINGLE
"There has been plenty of talk about tyre regulations in the Interlagos paddock this weekend and some teams have called for the present rules to be revised so that manufacturers are allowed bring two types of wet-weather tyre. Pierre Dupasquier would not support such a move, however. He said: Perhaps we need to do a little bit of work, but I don't see why we can't carry on as we are. I believe it is possible to run a single type of rain tyre per grand prix and I am very satisfied with the way our products have performed throughout this weekend. Michelins in the wet? That looked like a wise choice to me."