British GP: Michelin preview

BACK WHERE IT ALL STARTED... Silverstone, home of the British Grand Prix, is one of the most historically significant venues on the calendar. It was here on May 13 1950 that the very first round of the Formula One world championship took place...


Silverstone, home of the British Grand Prix, is one of the most historically significant venues on the calendar. It was here on May 13 1950 that the very first round of the Formula One world championship took place... and here on July 16 1977 that Michelin started its maiden grand prix. Michelin's entrance marked the first appearance in F1 of the radial technology that remains at the sport's cutting edge today.

A former wartime airfield, Silverstone opened its doors to motorsport in 1948 and has been in use ever since. Its profile might have changed over the years, but its challenging, high-speed character remains intact.

This year's race marks the 57th British GP- and the 40th to take place at Silverstone (Brands Hatch has staged the event 12 times, Aintree five).

Carlos Reutemann (Ferrari) scored Michelin's first British GP win, at Brands Hatch in 1978. It has since won the race on another five occasions, with John Watson (McLaren, Silverstone 1981), Niki Lauda (McLaren, Brands Hatch 1982 and Brands Hatch 1984), Alain Prost (Renault, Silverstone 1983) and Juan Pablo Montoya (McLaren, Silverstone 2005).

This weekend, the company is targeting its sixth win of the 2006 season and the 99th in its illustrious F1 world championship history.

Michelin's view

Nick Shorrock, Formula One director, Michelin

"Silverstone's demanding sweeps place considerable loads on both cars and tyres. The track requires a medium aero set-up and a Formula One chassis needs to be very reactive, to cope with high-speed directional changes, yet also stable enough to handle the slower segments of the track. The latter part of the lap demands good traction, too.

"The track surface is relatively porous and, therefore, abrasive on tyres, so we tend to favour some of the hardest compounds we use all season. The cars reach very high speeds and are subjected to significant vertical and lateral loads, so a well balanced tyre is essential.

"To prepare tyres for this race, we have done a lot of work with our partners during recent test sessions at both Silverstone and Barcelona. Several new products have been tested in order to find the best compromise between first-lap pace and consistency over a full race stint.

"As ever at Silverstone, there are always doubts about the weather and we might well have the opportunity to demonstrate the performance of our latest wet-weather compounds."

Driver perspective: Juan Pablo Montoya, Team McLaren Mercedes

"The Silverstone circuit is completely different from the streets of Monaco, where we raced two weeks ago. It is all about super-fast corners that demand you push the car right to the limit to get a quick lap time. The quick sweeps make Silverstone quite hard on tyres, particularly those fitted to the car's left-hand side.

"At the test in April we worked through our tyre selection process with Michelin and consequently have a good bank of information. At the test, we found that lap times were faster than they were last year. This is due to improved tyre performance and sleeker aerodynamics, which have contributed to increased mid-corner speeds. Copse is now one of the biggest corners of the season - it requires massive commitment, plus absolute belief in the chassis and tyres. The start of the lap is awesome, with Copse, Maggotts and the Becketts complex... I love to race at Silverstone and hope we can repeat last year's result, when I scored my first victory for Team McLaren Mercedes."

Michelin in the United Kingdom

Michelin is the largest employer in the British tyre industry, and last year celebrated its 100th UK anniversary.

- Manchester is home to Michelin Services Limited, with 250 employees of 24 different nationalities. It is responsible for the accounts of 15 countries, including France, Germany and the UK. It receives more than 850 000 invoices a year. Manchester is also home to the Michelin Consumer Contact Centre, with 25 employees. It provides sales customer services to consumers of car tyres from France, Austria, Switzerland and Germany.

- Dundee (980 employees) produces each year over seven million car tyres under a variety of brand names including BFGoodrich, Kleber, Kormoran, Michelin, Norauto and Riken.

- Ballymena, 1100 employees. Each year, this factory makes more than 1.5 million Michelin and BFGoodrich tyres for buses and trucks. More than half the tyres produced here are manufactured for the North American market.

- Watford, 23 employees work in the Sales and Editorial teams of the travel publications for the UK. The first edition of the Michelin Guide to the British Isles appeared in 1911.

- Stoke-on-Trent opened in 1927 and was only the second Michelin factory to be established outside France.

o Manufacturing: each year 400 people manufacture 400 000 truck tyres at the site o Logistics: Stoke provides warehouse storage for UK productions - more than 250 000 deliveries are carried out each year from Stoke. o Group Services: more than 200 people provide support service to the UK, including Communications, IT, Finance, Legal, and so on. o Commerce: 200 people look after UK sales and marketing of a wide variety of products including agriculture, aircraft, car, earthmover, truck and two-wheel tyres. o MTIC: the Michelin Training and Technical Centre provides training for the UK, Europe and the Group. Each year, 235 courses are offered. o Michelin lifestyle Ltd is dedicated to developing ranges of Michelin Lifestyle Products - which include automotive accessories and a range of collectibles.


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