British GP: Michelin Saturday qualifying notes

Barrichello on top but Renault star provides one of the talking points at Silverstone Ferrari driver Rubens Barrichello has taken his second pole position of the season but he faces a strong challenge from a phalanx of Michelin runners ...

Barrichello on top but Renault star provides one of the talking points at Silverstone

Ferrari driver Rubens Barrichello has taken his second pole position of the season but he faces a strong challenge from a phalanx of Michelin runners in tomorrow's British Grand Prix. The Brazilian was second driver on track today and set a 1m 21.209s lap that remained unbeaten until the end. Jarno Trulli (Renault, second) spearheaded the Michelin challenge with a blistering performance. The Italian was fastest through two of the track's three sectors and fell just 0.172s short of Barrichello's benchmark.

Jarno Trulli's team mate Fernando Alonso (Renault) was eighth and one of nine Michelin drivers in the top 12.

Championship challenger Kimi Räikkönen (McLaren-Mercedes/Michelin) made two significant errors in yesterday's opening qualifying session, but he bounced back with a neat, aggressive lap to day to annexe third on the grid. Team-mate David Coulthard has a mountain to climb if he is to score a third British GP victory to add to those he scored in 1999 and 2000: the Scot qualified 12th.

The Michelin-shod Williams-BMWs came to Silverstone on a high after grabbing one-two finishes in the previous two grands prix, and title contenders Ralf Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya will be fourth and seventh on the closely-matched grid.

Of the other Michelin runners, Toyota has looked strong all weekend and rookie Cristiano da Matta qualified sixth, the best grid position of his young F1 career. Team-mate Olivier Panis was Michelin's tail-gunner in 13th place. Jaguar has been struggling to find a set-up that suits its home circuit and Mark Webber admits that this could be one of the team's most taxing events of the year. The Australian will line up 11th one place behind Antonio Pizzonia. It is the first time since the Malaysian GP that the Brazilian has outqualified his more experienced team-mate.

Michael Schumacher was poised to challenge his team-mate, but he ran wide across the grass at Abbey Curve and as a result was only fifth fastest.

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

Michelin might not be on pole position for the first time in five grands prix, but its drivers are in excellent shape for tomorrow's 60-lap race. Jarno Trulli (Renault, second) spearheaded the Michelin challenge and equalled the best qualifying result of his career. It is the fourth time that he will have started a Formula One race from the front row.

The top half of the field is packed with Michelin runners and Trulli headed Kimi Räikkönen (McLaren-Mercedes, third), Ralf Schumacher (BMW WilliamsF1 Team, fourth), Cristiano da Matta (Toyota, sixth the best performance of his fledgling grand prix career), Juan Pablo Montoya (BMW WilliamsF1 Team, seventh), Fernando Alonso (Renault, eighth), Antonio Pizzonia (Jaguar, 10th), Mark Webber (Jaguar, 11th), David Coulthard (McLaren-Mercedes, 12th) and Olivier Panis (Toyota, 13th).

Michelin motorsport director Pierre Dupasquier said: This is an interesting grid. One or two of our regular front-runners are perhaps not quite where we would expect to find them, but there could be a number of reasons for that: we don't yet know exactly how much fuel the cars had on board for example. One thing is clear, however: our tyres are working very well at this track and we have every reason to be optimistic about tomorrow.

Silverstone's variable track conditions made tyre evaluation difficult during yesterday's opening qualifying session, but things stabilised today. Pierre Dupasquier: The track has become much more consistent and we were able to glean some valuable data. Several of our teams continued conducting tyre tests right up until the end of this morning's final free practice session and left their choice for the race until the last possible moment. In the end our five partner teams have opted to use three different types of tyre."

Silverstone might be one of the most demanding tracks on the Formula One calendar, but so far it has caused Michelin no worries in terms of tyre wear. Pierre Dupasquier: "I am delighted with the consistency our tyres have shown. It is conceivable that teams will run two- or three-stop strategies tomorrow, but either way we don't have any durability concerns. Everything continues to function very well between Michelin and its partner teams. The five of them being present among the 11th grid spots and I am confident that there remains scope to make things even better in future."


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