Chinese GP: Michelin Friday practice notes

DAVIDSON HEADS MICHELIN 1-2-3-4 ON LANDMARK DAY FOR F1 Anthony Davidson (B*A*R-Honda/Michelin) was fastest overall on the opening day of the Chinese Grand Prix - the nation's first world championship grand prix. The Englishman lapped the ...

DAVIDSON HEADS MICHELIN 1-2-3-4 ON LANDMARK DAY FOR F1

Anthony Davidson (B*A*R-Honda/Michelin) was fastest overall on the opening day of the Chinese Grand Prix - the nation's first world championship grand prix. The Englishman lapped the state-of-the-art, 5.451-kilometre (3.387- mile) Shanghai International Circuit in 1m 33.289s, 0.885s faster than team- mate Jenson Button.

Davidson - B*A*R's test and reserve driver - was quickest in both of today's free practice sessions. Michelin drivers set the four fastest times: McLaren Mercedes team-mates Kimi Raikkonen and David Coulthard were third and fourth, while returnee Ralf Schumacher (BMW WilliamsF1 Team, seventh), Ricardo Zonta (Toyota/Michelin, ninth), Olivier Panis (Toyota, 10th) and Ryan Briscoe, Toyota, 11th) were also in the top half of the field.

B*A*R-Honda star Takuma Sato pulled off with a suspected engine problem at the start of the second free practice session. If the Japanese driver needs a replacement V10, he will be docked 10 places on the grid.

Minardi test driver Bas Leinders was the first driver to hit the track when F1 cars initially ventured out for this weekend's landmark race. Jordan's new reserve Robert Doornbos was the first man to complete a flying lap. He has taken Timo Glock's place this weekend because the German has been promoted to the race team, following the departure of Italian Giorgio Pantano.

It didn't take Doornbos long to learn the harsh facts of F1 life: he collected a $3750 fine for exceeding the pit lane speed limit.

On his return to F1, former world champion Jacques Villeneuve was 14th and 15th in today's free practice sessions. The Canadian has taken Jarno Trulli's place at Renault for the final three grands prix of the campaign. He was delayed by a spin in the morning and a trip across the grass in the afternoon.

Pierre Dupasquier, Michelin motorsport director

"Our experience in Bahrain earlier this season laid the groundwork for learning about the nuances of brand-new circuits - and I think it's fair to say we are better prepared this weekend than we were back then. Notwithstanding the traditional vagaries of free practice, today's result certainly indicates that we are on the right track and we hope that this continues right through to the race.

"F1's suppliers were recently able to evaluate the Shanghai circuit, thanks to the intervention of Wong Lee and her management team, and we were able to use our refined predictive tools to analyse the properties of the track surface. At the same time, our partner teams were conducting computer simulations to calculate lateral and longitudinal loads, downforce, average lap speeds and so on. We merged the accumulated data and used it to finalise the two dry-weather tyres we are using this weekend.

"Both compounds have performed well and it is feasible that the two types will appear on the grid on Sunday. Anthony Davidson set the day's fastest lap on a fresh set of Michelins. Encouragingly, his team-mate Jenson Button was second quickest on used rubber. Given that teams have to make up their minds today, the difficulty comes in predicting how a new track might change between now and the race - it's an unknown factor and the evolutionary curve is difficult to predict. So far, though, I am pleased with our form at this impressive new facility."

-michelin-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Takuma Sato , Jenson Button , Ralf Schumacher , David Coulthard , Jacques Villeneuve , Kimi Raikkonen , Ricardo Zonta , Anthony Davidson , Robert Doornbos , Ryan Briscoe , Timo Glock , Bas Leinders
Teams Mercedes , McLaren , Williams , Minardi , Jordan