McLAREN AND MICHELIN MAINTAIN RICH VEIN OF FORM Michelin partner Team McLaren Mercedes has made a flying start in its bid to score a third consecutive Formula One victory. The team& ...
McLAREN AND MICHELIN MAINTAIN RICH VEIN OF FORM
Michelin partner Team McLaren Mercedes has made a flying start in its bid to score a third consecutive Formula One victory. The teams test and reserve driver Alex Wurz was quickest in the first two free practice sessions ahead of Sundays Grand Prix of Europe. He posted a 1m 30.623s lap in the searing heat of todays afternoon session, when track temperatures nudged 50 degrees.
The Austrian was just 0.007s clear of closest challenger Ricardo Zonta (Toyota/Michelin) and Nick Heidfeld (BMW WilliamsF1 Team) completed a trio of Michelin drivers at the head of the field. Among the other Michelin runners, McLaren team-mates Juan Pablo Montoya and Kimi Räikkönen were fourth and fifth on aggregate, ahead of Mark Webber (BMW WilliamsF1 Team, sixth), world championship leader Fernando Alonso (Renault, eighth) and Giancarlo Fisichella (Renault, 10th).
Michelin is bidding to win its eighth consecutive F1 grand prix this weekend and its 82nd in all. As expected, Formula Ones qualifying format has been revised in time for this weekends Grand Prix of Europe. The grid will be determined by a single-lap shoot-out on Saturday. Teams have accepted a proposal to scrap the secondary qualifying session and aggregated timing procedure that was implemented at the beginning of the 2005 campaign.
There has been a change in this weekends F1 line-up. Renault reserve Franck Montagny has replaced Robert Doornbos as Jordan-Toyotas Friday tester, although the deal is only for one race. Jordan trio Montagny, Tiago Monteiro and Narain Karthikeyan all ran off the circuit during todays second session. Only Karthikeyan was unable to continue.
Toyota driver Ralf Schumacher was fined $750 for exceeding the pit speed limit during this mornings opening free practice. Mark Webber (BMW WilliamsF1 Team) missed part of todays second free practice session after spinning into the gravel at the Bit Kurve.
Pierre Dupasquier, Michelin motorsport director:
Several of our partner teams appear to be extremely competitive at the Nürburgring a pleasingly familiar pattern at every race so far this season. There is a greater degree of uncertainty about Friday fuel loads this weekend, of course, with the revised qualifying system."
"I completely understand why Formula One is reverting to a single qualifying session, but it is slightly frustrating for engineers not to see the full potential of their cars and tyres being exploited on low-fuel runs during the build-up to the race. We will have to wait until Sunday to appreciate where we stand in the overall scheme of things.
What we do know, from a performance perspective, is that everything has worked very well so far for Michelin. We have several prime compounds here, although they are only subtly different, and one option. There is a clear distinction between the different types of tyres in terms of single-lap performance, but we have yet to finalise the full implications over longer runs."
"It is conceivable that both will be used in the race. It has been extremely hot today but one should never be surprised by huge temperature fluctuations in this region of Germany. It was one of many factors in our pre-race preparations.