Renault Pipped in Thrilling Home Battle Michael Schumacher's audacious four-stop strategy paid dividends in the French Grand Prix and earned the German his ninth win in 10 starts this season. The defending world champion shadowed pole position...
Renault Pipped in Thrilling Home Battle
Michael Schumacher's audacious four-stop strategy paid dividends in the French Grand Prix and earned the German his ninth win in 10 starts this season. The defending world champion shadowed pole position winner Fernando Alonso (Renault/Michelin) in the opening stages of the 70-lap race but moved ahead after the second round of scheduled stops. The Ferrari star's lighter fuel load subsequently enabled him to open up just enough of an advantage to emerge ahead of the feisty young Spaniard - who pitted three times - after his fourth and decisive stop.
The French GP was one of this season's most closely fought to date and five of Michelin's partner teams earned top-10 finishes. Jarno Trulli (Renault/Michelin) ran third from the start and had to cope with race-long pressure from Jenson Button (B·A·R-Honda/Michelin) and Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari). Barrichello nipped past Button when the latter lost momentum in the wake of his third and final stop - and took Trulli by surprise when he dived inside as they entered the final chicane complex. The three were covered by less than a second at the flag.
After starting third - the best qualifying performance of the season for Team McLaren Mercedes/Michelin, which introduced its new B-spec chassis at this event - David Coulthard slipped back to finish sixth, just ahead of team-mate Kimi Räikkönen. Juan Pablo Montoya (BMW WilliamsF1 Team/Michelin) claimed the final point - although he would have scored more handsomely had he not lost three places by spinning onto the main straight in the early stages of the race.
All but one Michelin driver lasted the distance Mark Webber (Jaguar) was ninth, ahead of Marc Gené (standing in for the unfit Ralf Schumacher at Williams-BMW, 10th), Christian Klien (Jaguar, 11th), Cristiano da Matta (Toyota, 14th) and Olivier Panis (Toyota, 15th). Takuma Sato (B·A·R-Honda) was the exception to the rule. He pulled off with a suspected engine problem on lap 16.
Pierre Dupasquier, Michelin motorsport director
"We seemed to have the race under control during the first two stints, but Michael Schumacher picked up speed after changing his strategy and was very quick. We need to sit down and pore very carefully over the data from this race. The final result might be disappointing in the wake of yesterday's pole position, but it was still very satisfying that there were nine of our cars in the top 11. As always, though, Michelin thrives on competition. A defeat such as this won't discourage us but will motivate us to get back on terms - starting at Silverstone next weekend."