David Coulthard and Michelin on the podium Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) stretched his world championship lead to 43 points in Canada after scoring his sixth victory of the season and the 59th of his Formula One career. The German fought a...
David Coulthard and Michelin on the podium
Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) stretched his world championship lead to 43 points in Canada after scoring his sixth victory of the season and the 59th of his Formula One career. The German fought a gripping lead battle with the pole position-winning Williams -BMW of Michelin driver Juan Pablo Montoya. The Colombian took advantage of a Safety Car period to make an early refuelling stop that helped earn him the lead after Schumacher had pitted on lap 38. The pair swapped positions again when Montoya made a secon d and final stop on lap 51, but his engine blew soon after he had resumed his pursuit of Schumacher.
David Coulthard (McLaren-Mercedes) gave Michelin some consolation by fending off a fierce challenge from Schumacher's team-mate Rubens Barrichello to take second. Two other Michelin drivers also scored points: Coulthard's team-mate Kimi Räikkönen was fourth and Jarno Trulli (Renault) got the better of a heated duel with Ralf Schumacher (Williams-BMW) to finish sixth. Räikkönen had to slow in the closing stages of the race to save fuel, because a faulty rig did not deliver a full quota during his only schedu led stop. Schumacher also had to make an extra stop because of refuelling problems and this dropped him out of the top six. The German pulled off with engine problems shortly after taking the chequered flag.
Of the remaining Michelin drivers, KL Minardi-Asiatech drivers Mark Webber and Alex Yoong were 11th and 14th respectively. Yoong was delayed by a drive-through penalty incurred for speeding in the pit lane. Jenson Button (Renault) was heading for a top-10 finish but pulled off with a suspected gearbox problem shortly before the end. Both Toyota drivers were out of luck.
Mika Salo (Toyota) picked up a penalty for speeding in the pit lane after making an early unscheduled stop to investigate a handling problem that later caused his retirement. Allan McNish was running in midfield when he spun into retirement. Nor was there any joy for the Jaguar drivers. Eddie Irvine retired with an engine failure while Pedro de la Rosa dropped to the tail of the field after colliding with McNish on the opening lap. He pitted for repairs and returned to the fray one lap in arrears, but pulled off before half-distance because of a technical problem.
Michelin's day: Pierre Dupasquier (Motorsport Director)
After taking pole position yesterday Michelin was in contention for victory until Juan Pablo's Williams-BMW stopped with an engine problem. A disappointing end to a promising weekend?
"I'm very satisfied with the way our tyres have performed. Juan Pablo drove a strong race and Michelin was right in contention for victory. Montreal is a very hard track but we have had no major problems throughout the weekend."
Had he lasted, do you think Montoya's tyres would have been in good enough shape to allow him to challenge Michael Schumacher for victory?
"From what we have seen our adversary's tyres were suffering a much greater rate of wear during the closing stages - I think we could tell that from the way Schumacher was driving at a gentler pace than before. If Juan Pablo had still been going at the end I am convinced he would have been able to challenge Michael and I am absolutely certain that he would have passed him, but that's racing. Given the tough nature of the circuit I think our tyres have performed really well - possibly even better than they d id two weeks ago in Monaco, when we won."
Michelin used both its primary (A) and option (B) tyres in the race today. Can you tell us more about which teams used which?
"Not really. I can tell you that Williams-BMW and McLaren-Mercedes used different compounds, but I'd rather leave it at that. The pleasing thing for us was that both were on the pace: different tyres, similar performance. David Coulthard did a fine job to finish second for McLaren after starting on the fourth row of the grid and it was pleasing for us to have three cars in the top six."
At several pit stops we noticed Michelin drivers opting to change only their rear tyres. Why was that?
"It was mostly just a question of finding the best possible chassis balance. Some drivers preferred their cars' handling when they ran with used fronts and newer rears. A few of our cars managed full-race distances on a single set of fronts without sufferi ng any blistering problems. That was another encouraging aspect of our performance this weekend."