Michelin's Formula One partners are back in Europe this weekend (June 22-23) for the ninth round of the 2002 FIA Formula One World Championship at the NÃ¼rburgring in Germany Here, the company's motorsport director Pierre Dupasquier talks about...
Michelin's Formula One partners are back in Europe this weekend (June 22-23) for the ninth round of the 2002 FIA Formula One World Championship at the Nürburgring in Germany Here, the company's motorsport director Pierre Dupasquier talks about the tyre choices that have been made for the forthcoming race and also reflects on Michelin's performance during the previous event in Montreal, Canada.
What do you have to look out for at the Nürburgring?
"The track incorporates a number of quick corners but, unlike Montreal, there is no sustained high-speed running down long straights. The two tyre compounds we will use in Germany have both been developed with this circuit specifically in mind. The weather conditions are a bit like those in Spa, Belgium - about 100 kilometres (60 miles) away as the crow flies. There is always a strong possibility of rain. We also have to bear in mind that the track has been altered and is 583 metres (0.362 miles) longer than before. We have much to learn about the new section."
Michelin's partner teams performed very strongly at the last race in Canada. Do you expect to be in such good shape again at the Nürburgring? Is this a track at which tyres can make a vital difference?
"This season, a number of observers have written that tyres are the factor that makes the biggest difference in performance terms. That is a bit misleading because tyres are just one element in a complex equation: to succeed you also need your engine and chassis to be working well and a good aerodynamic balance.
"That said, it is true that you can take the edge off a car's performance if you don't come up with a strong tyre. The races in Monaco and Montreal proved as much, because in both cases some of the Michelin teams outpaced the customarily dominant partnership of Michael Schumacher and Ferrari. True, Bibendum did not finish on the top step of the podium in Canada, but that was because race incidents beyond our control delayed or eliminated a couple of our strongest runners.
"David Coulthard might have qualified only on the fourth row, but he raced strongly to finish and he was closing in strongly towards the end. As for Juan Pablo Montoya (BMW WilliamsF1 Team/Michelin), he set the fastest lap of the race and was catching Michael at the rate of about one second per lap until an technical problem forced him to retire."
The Nürburgring presents a whole new set of circumstances. Michelin is ready for the challenge - and looking forward to a different outcome.