Every grand prix in the 2001 season has, so far, held a number of pleasant surprises in store for Michelin. In the previous race at Monaco, where it is imperative that both drivers and machines perform reliably, Eddie Irvine pulled off something...
Every grand prix in the 2001 season has, so far, held a number of pleasant surprises in store for Michelin. In the previous race at Monaco, where it is imperative that both drivers and machines perform reliably, Eddie Irvine pulled off something of a coup by giving Jaguar Racing its first podium finish in Formula 1. And Jean Alesi brought a ray of light to the Prost-Acer team, which scored its first point of the year thanks to the Frenchman's sixth place.
Michelin motorsport director Pierre Dupasquier says: "The Monaco result underlines, once again, that every race this season represents a new stage in our F1 learning curve. Last season, when we stressed that it would be very hard for us to mix it with F1's leading lights on a regular basis, certain observers accused us of false modesty. But the way this season is progressing is entirely in keeping with what you might expect of this business".
"A wide number of different parameters influence the results and you can't overlook any eventuality. Our partners know it - and so do our rivals: McLaren is a great team, but just look at the recurring problems that have been going on there. The fact we are fighting at the front clearly indicates that we are producing tyres that are well suited to the different tracks. But in Monaco, for instance, we thought our tyres might be a touch too hard, yet they were almost worn out by the end. Who knows what might happen in Montreal?"
The Île Notre-Dame: an abundance of atmosphere
The Canadian Grand Prix has a reputation as one of the friendliest races of the season. It takes place at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, which is situated on the Île Notre-Dame. The track measures 4.421 km (2.747 miles) and is notable for placing an emphasis on strong acceleration and powerful braking, which makes setting up a car something of a fine art.
Pierre Dupasquier says: "Here we have very high top speeds, two hairpins taken almost at a crawl, a badly- worn surface that offers little grip and potential problems with traction and braking".
"Montreal is one of those circuits where you need to find grip to boost traction, yet you still have to be able to generate high speeds (David Coulthard was clocked at 327 km/h, or 203.2 mph, in 1999). It's a bit like a faster version of Monaco. In 1980 the race took place in October and there were snowflakes in the air. That's unlikely to be the case this time, with the race scheduled for June 8."
This year, unusually, there is no clash between the Canadian GP and the Le Mans 24 Hours,which is another major event for Michelin. After last year's 1-2-3 with Audi and an LM GTS class win courtesy of Team Viper Oreca, Michelin is the preferred choice of more than half the field in this season's endurance classic. Just 6 days after Canada, the company will be pitched headlong into yet another gruelling weekend.