Barrichello sets pace through the puddles; Alonso and Renault spearhead Michelin challenge Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari) set quickest qualifying time on the opening day of the Canadian Grand Prix -- although weather conditions ensured that ...
Barrichello sets pace through the puddles; Alonso and Renault spearhead Michelin challenge
Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari) set quickest qualifying time on the opening day of the Canadian Grand Prix -- although weather conditions ensured that "quickest" was only a relative term. It rained so heavily that FIA stewards permitted teams to run extremeet-weather tyres for the first time since they were introduced in Austria, three races ago.
Michelin drivers coped well with the testing, deteriorating conditions and six of them qualified in the top 12. Spaniard Fernando Alonso (Renault, fifth) led the way, ahead of world championship leader Kimi Räikkönen (Team McLaren Mercedes, sixth), David Coulthard (Team McLaren Mercedes, eighth), Mark Webber (Jaguar, ninth), Olivier Panis (Totota, 10th) and Monaco GP winner Juan Pablo Montoya (BMW WilliamsF1 Team, 12th). Coulthard and Montoya were two of several drivers to lose time after sliding off the track.
Ralf Schumacher (BMW WilliamsF1 Team, 15th) headed the remaining Michelin challengers, from Cristiano da Matta (Toyota, 16th), Antonio Pizzonia (Jaguar, 17th) and Jarno Trulli (Renault, 19th). Pizzonia was fastest in this morning's dry free practice session -- a little bit too much so for the stewards' liking. As well as topping the timesheets, he also picked up fines totalling $5,750 for speeding in the pits.
Despite the rain, Jacques Villeneuve (B*A*R-Honda) was the only driver to spin off this afternoon. The local favourite consequently ended up 20th -- and last. He will thus be first car on the road during tomorrow's decisive second qualifying session.
Michelin's day: Pierre Dupasquier -- Michelin Motorsport Director
Fernando Alonso (Renault, fifth) was fastest Michelin driver in today's rain-hit first qualifying session for the Canadian Grand Prix. Conditions were so bad that teams were allowed to use "extreme" wet-weather tyres for the first time since they were introduced three races ago in Austria. Michelin motorsport director Pierre Dupasquier said: "This was a very difficult session. Things obviously weren't quite so wet at the beginning. Williams-BMW driver Ralf Schumacher was the last man to start under light rain but the skies opened again while he was on the track. After that there was no question of using anything other than deeper-treaded tyres."
Michelin driver Antonio Pizzonia (Jaguar) set the pace during this morning's first free practice session, when conditions were mostly dry. Pierre Dupasquier: "The track evolved quite considerably during the morning. We have four different types of dry-weather tyre available -- two constructions, each with two different compounds -- and two of them proved to be very well suited to the track. If things dry out tomorrow, teams should be able to use either of them."
Michelin is more involved in worldwide motor sport than any other major tyre manufacturer and supplies teams in many of the world's leading disciplines. This weekend it will be represented in the Canadian Grand Prix, the Le Mans 24 Hours and -- on two wheels -- rounds of the MotoGP series and Superbike World Championship.