Strong Michelin showing tightens world title battle Brazilian Rubens Barrichello scored his first world championship victory of the season for Ferrari at Silverstone -- but despite starting from pole position he had to bide his time in one of...
Strong Michelin showing tightens world title battle
Brazilian Rubens Barrichello scored his first world championship victory of the season for Ferrari at Silverstone -- but despite starting from pole position he had to bide his time in one of the year's most eventful races. Barrichello was slow away from the start and followed Michelin drivers Jarno Trulli (Renault) and Kimi Räikkönen (McLaren-Mercedes) in the early stages.
The race was quickly thrown into confusion, however, by two Safety Car periods. Michelin and BMW WilliamsF1 Team continued a consistent run of live podium results with Juan-Pablo Montoya claiming second. Kimi Räikkönen (West Mclaren Mercedes) finished third and reduced the gap in the Drivers' World Championship with one point.
The race was neutralised for the first time on lap six, after David Coulthard's cockpit surround became detached and shattered on the track at Copse Corner. The aftermath was swiftly cleared, but the race was soon interrupted again when a protester ran onto the track. Marshals swiftly removed him -- and all the leading drivers promptly took the opportunity to make a tactical pit stop. The sudden pit lane congestion caused some of the favourites -- including world championship leader Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) -- to slip into the midfield.
When the dust settled Räikkönen eventually emerged at the head of the field -- but Barrichello launched a successful counter-attack and passed the Finn with a spectacular lunge at Bridge Corner on lap 42. The Brazilian went on to score the sixth win of his career.
Räikkönen was destined to finish third after he ran wide at Stowe and allowed Juan Pablo Montoya (BMW WilliamsF1 Team/Michelin) to snatch second. The result tightened the fight for the world title. Räikkönen closed to within seven points of Schumacher, who recovered to finish fourth, and Montoya has moved up to third overall -- right in the thick of the title battle.
"The most important thing is that managed to close the gap in the Drivers' World Championship by one point. At the end of the day you never know, later in the season the one point we scored today might prove crucial." said Kimi.
Five Michelin drivers finished in the top eight. David Coulthard (McLaren-Mercedes) had to pass several cars to work his way into fifth, ahead of early leader Trulli (sixth) and Toyota star Cristiano da Matta, who led a grand prix for the first time in the wake of the second Safety Car incident.
Of the rest, Olivier Panis (Toyota) ran as high as third before dropping to 11th and Mark Webber (Jaguar) survived a brush of wheels with team-mate Antonio Pizzonia en route to 14th.
Final Michelin runner Fernando Alonso (Renault) stopped shortly before the end when a technical problem forced him to park while running ninth.
Michelin's day: Pierre Dupasquier -- Michelin Motorsport Director
MICHELIN STARS CLOSE GAP IN TITLE BATTLE
Michelin maintained its excellent run of Formula One form with another strong performance in today's incident-packed British Grand Prix. Juan Pablo Montoya (BMW WilliamsF1 Team) and Kimi Räikkönen (McLaren-Mercedes) finished second and third to close the gap to current world championship leader Michael Schumacher. David Coulthard (McLaren-Mercedes, fifth), Jarno Trulli (Renault, sixth) and Cristiano da Matta (Toyota, seventh) helped make Michelin the dominant tyre manufacturer in the points-scoring positions.
BEST YET AT SILVERSTONE
This has been Michelin's most competitive British Grand Prix since the company returned to Formula One in 2001. Its Formula One project manager Pascal Vasselon said: "After our back-to-back victories at the Nürburgring and Magny-Cours, some people might conclude that we are disappointed about this result: nothing could be further from the truth. There was very little difference in performance between the leading runners this weekend. It has been a close -- and fascinating -- race. The fact that four of our partner teams were able to score points with three different types of dry-weather tyre proves that the range of options we brought this weekend has been extremely competitive."
CATALOGUE OF INNOVATIONS
Michelin will introduce yet more innovative tyre developments at the next round of the Formula One world championship in Hockenheim, Germany on August 3. Teams and tyre manufacturers are presently unable to test on track, because a mid-summer ban is in force, but that won't affect Michelin's preparations. Pascal Vasselon said: "We have been working very hard recently and have already selected our options for Hockenheim. The circuit is very different in character from Silverstone, but this season we have proved time and again that we are able to produce competitive tyres for every type of track."
GETTING A GRIP
Michelin motorsport director Pierre Dupasquier derived a great deal of satisfaction from this weekend's performance. He said: "Here at Silverstone grip is governed by two elements: the tyres themselves and the level of downforce a chassis is able to develop. Average lap speeds are more than 230 km/h (140 mph) -- so a good aerodynamic balance is essential. In such circumstances our partner teams showed that they have finely-tuned chassis that performed very competitively on our latest tyres."