Kimi RÃ¤ikkonen best of Michelin drivers Ferrari drivers Rubens Barrichello and Michael Schumacher dominated the Grand Prix of Europe and finished almost 50 seconds clear of their closest challengers Best of the Michelin drivers: Kimi...
Kimi Räikkonen best of Michelin drivers
Ferrari drivers Rubens Barrichello and Michael Schumacher dominated the Grand Prix of Europe and finished almost 50 seconds clear of their closest challengers Best of the Michelin drivers: Kimi Räikkönen (West McLaren-Mercedes)finished third on the podium
From the second row of the grid the Ferrari team-mates sprinted to the head of the pack within the opening two minutes of the race - and Barrichello held the upper hand from the first lap until the last. The Brazilian's prospects were aided when world champion Schumacher made a rare mistake and spun off on the 23rd of 60 laps. The German fought back, however, and was right on Barrichello's tail by the end. They finished just 0.2 seconds apart. It is the second Formula One world championship victory of Barrichello's career and Schumacher has stretched his series lead over brother Ralf (BMW WilliamsF1 Team/Michelin) to 36 points.
Kimi Räikkönen (McLaren-Mercedes) was one of many drivers to fall foul of the ultra-slippery and bumpy new Mercedes Arena complex, but after running off the track early in the race he bounced back to finish third ^Ö and best of the Michelin contingent. Ralf Schumacher (fourth), Jenson Button (Renault, fifth) and Jarno Trulli (Renault, eighth) also gave Michelin top-10 finishes. Like Räikkönen, Trulli slid off the track in the early stages before pulling off a string of passing manoeuvres to claw his way clear of the midfield pack.
All but six cars finished a race of unusually low attrition. Allan McNish (Toyota, 14th) and Mark Webber (KL Minardi-Asiatech, 15th) were the only other Michelin drivers to finish.
Pole-position starter Juan Pablo Montoya (BMW WilliamsF1 Team/Michelin) lost out to team-mate Schumacher Jnr at the start and dropped behind the Ferraris on the opening lap. He settled into fourth place and held it until spinning under pressure from David Coulthard (McLaren-Mercedes/Michelin) at the beginning of lap 28. The Colombian's out-of-control car clipped its challenger and both cars suffered damage that put them out on the spot.
Eddie Irvine (Jaguar/Michelin) pulled off with a technical problem and Mika Salo (Toyota/Michelin) dropped out after a series of off-track excursions. Alex Yoong (KL Minardi-Asiatech/Michelin) was penalised for jumping the start and later spun on his way into the pit lane, leaving a trail of dirt on the track that also caused Irvine to spin. The Malaysian eventually withdrew with 12 laps to go because of a car problem.
Michelin's day, Pierre Dupasquier (Motorsport Director)
Michelin cars were quickest on Friday and took pole position yesterday, but things didn't pan out quite so well in the race. Why?
"We aren't sure yet - but given the Ferraris' race pace I am beginning to wonder whether they qualified with a whole load of fuel on board or something! After seeing their performance today I am surprised they didn't lap several seconds faster in qualifying. It is not unusual for them to be ultra-quick in the race, of course, but Ferrari is definitely the factor that makes the difference at the moment. Despite losing two front-running cars in an unfortunate accident we had three cars in the top six. The next best finisher on the same tyres as the Ferraris was more than a lap behind them. That tells you something."
You tackled this race in an ambitious way with two relatively soft tyre compounds. Any regrets?
"No. You have to be aggressive if you want to win in Formula One and we have learned many valuable lessons this weekend - not least where we need to set our goals in future. Our tyres gave extremely high performance, but it is clear that trying to run a race on a one-stop strategy was a marginal exercise."
How would you sum up Michelin's weekend?
"We did lots of work on Friday and analysed all the results, but although things looked good for the first couple of days we have seen once again that you never know the true picture until the race comes around on Sunday. We weren't competitive enough today, when it mattered, and Ferrari had an undeniable margin of superiority."
Have you drawn any conclusions about the relative performance of your primary (A) and option (B) tyres?
"Not yet. Both kinds of tyre were used today, but we haven't seen any obvious pattern emerging. We have plenty of data to study, not least because some teams opted to run primary tyres on one car and options on the other. The Williams-BMWs raced on different compounds, for instance."
Next stop, Silverstone. Any predictions?
"Yes - we'll take a less radical approach. We are consistently able to qualify at the front but the best solution could be to qualify on the second row and win the race!"