British GP: Michelin Friday qualifying notes

MONTOYA spearheads strong Michelin challenge Schumacher and Ferrari set pace; all 10 Michelin drivers feature in top 12 Rain hit the opening Formula One qualifying session for a second consecutive grand prix -- but drivers had to cope only with...

MONTOYA spearheads strong Michelin challenge
Schumacher and Ferrari set pace; all 10 Michelin drivers feature in top 12

Rain hit the opening Formula One qualifying session for a second consecutive grand prix -- but drivers had to cope only with light drizzle and track conditions remained fairly consistent. Running first on the road proved to be no disadvantage for world champion Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), whose 1m 19.474s lap put him 0.275s clear of closest challenger Juan Pablo Montoya (BMW WilliamsF1 Team/Michelin).

Michelin drivers set the top three times during this morning's free practice session and Montoya was followed by a clutch of Michelin drivers, including Ralf Schumacher (BMW WilliamsF1 Team, third), Fernando Alonso (Renault, fourth), Olivier Panis (Toyota, fifth), Jarno Trulli (Renault, sixth), David Coulthard (McLaren-Mercedes, seventh), Mark Webber (Jaguar, eighth), Cristiano da Matta (Toyota, 10th) and Antonio Pizzonia (Jaguar, 11th). This weekend the Jaguar R4s of Webber and Pizzonia are carrying sponsorship from Terminator 3, Arnold Schwarzenegger's latest movie.

McLaren's leading world title contender Kimi Räikkönen had a torrid time -- by his own high standards: he ran wide exiting Becketts and then lost more time when he made a mistake a Stowe. As a result the Finn was only 12th.

It was also a difficult session for Schumacher's team-mate Rubens Barrichello. The Brazilian slithered off the road at Brooklands and became bogged down in a gravel trap. Officials briefly red-flagged the session so that his car could be retrieved. Englishman Justin Wilson (Minardi) also failed to post a time. His car broke down shortly after he left the pits.

Michelin's day: Pierre Dupasquier -- Michelin Motorsport Director

MICHELIN MAKES BRIGHT START ON GREY DAY
Michelin made a confident start to its British Grand Prix weekend. Its cars set the fastest three times during this morning's free practice session and this afternoon all 10 Michelin drivers lined up in the top 12.

Juan Pablo Montoya (BMW WilliamsF1 Team) spearheaded the Michelin challenge: he was second fastest ahead of Ralf Schumacher (BMW WilliamsF1 Team, third), Fernando Alonso (Renault, fourth), Olivier Panis (Toyota, fifth), Jarno Trulli (Renault, sixth), David Coulthard (McLaren-Mercedes, seventh), Mark Webber (Jaguar, eighth), Cristiano da Matta (Toyota, 10th), Antonio Pizzonia (Jaguar, 11th) and Kimi Räikkönen (McLaren-Mercedes, 12th).

Michelin motorsport director Pierre Dupasquier said: "Today's conditions have not been ideal for gathering data, because the track is still very green, but the early signs suggest that the tyres we prepared for Silverstone are very well suited to the track." In the wake of recent successes at the Nürburgring and Magny-Cours, Michelin is gunning for a third successive grand prix victory this weekend.

SOMETHING OLD, SOMETHING NEW
Michelin has brought three different types of dry-weather tyre to Silverstone this weekend. Pierre Dupasquier said: "Conditions were never slippery enough to justify running wet tyres. We have a mixture of options with us this weekend: some are brand new and others have been used at previous races. It won't be until tomorrow morning's free practice, however, that teams will have enough information to decide which they should use in the race."

ASSAULT AND RUBBERY
With average lap speeds in the region of 230 km/h (140 mph), Silverstone is one of the Formula One season's most demanding circuits for a tyre manufacturer. Pierre Dupasquier said: "The British Grand Prix is a very challenging event for us. Cars do not carry quite as much aerodynamic downforce as they do in Barcelona, which takes a higher toll on rubber than any other F1 circuit, but tyres are subjected to significant loads throughout the lap -- and we have to bear in mind that the surface is fairly abrasive, too."

-michelin-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Ferrari , Mercedes , McLaren , Williams , Minardi