French GP: Michelin race notes

MICHELIN SCORES MEMORABLE ONE-TWO ON HOME GROUND World championship leader Fernando Alonso (Renault) gave Michelin its ninth victory of the season with a dominant drive in the French Grand Prix at Magny-Cours. The Spaniard qualified on pole ...


World championship leader Fernando Alonso (Renault) gave Michelin its ninth victory of the season with a dominant drive in the French Grand Prix at Magny-Cours. The Spaniard qualified on pole position and pulled away from his rivals at more than a second per lap during the early stages. He was never seriously challenged thereafter and went on to finish 11.805 seconds clear , and closest title rival Kimi Räikkönen (Team McLaren Mercedes/Michelin).

It was Michelin’s 84th F1 world championship victory, Alonso’s fifth of the season – and the first time an all-Renault car has won in France since 1983. “I am very proud to win here today, for the team, for Renault, for Michelin who have had a difficult time in the last two weeks, and for all the fans who came to support us.” said Fernando. Renault now leads McLaren by 18 points, with a total of 89 points.

“The team gave a fantastic performance today, and Michelin did the same – after the events in Indianapolis, it was great to see them come back so strongly and dominate the week-end.” added Flavio Briatore - Managing Director- “Finally we are delighted for the spectators, and our colleagues who came to the race today – we were proud to offer them this victory.”

Räikkönen’s drive was every bit as impressive as Alonso’s. The Finn set the third fastest qualifying time – despite having enough fuel on board for 28 laps, considerably more than his rivals – although he had to start 13th after being penalised 10 places for an unscheduled engine change.

He made two refuelling stops, one fewer than Alonso, and had established himself in second place after the first of them. His team-mate Juan Pablo Montoya was on course to complete a Michelin 1-2-3, but a hydraulic problem forced him to retire without any gears.

Defending world champion Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) inherited third place, ahead of Michelin drivers Jenson Button (B*A*R-Honda, fourth), Jarno Trulli (Toyota, fifth), Giancarlo Fisichella (Renault, sixth), Ralf Schumacher (Toyota, seventh) and Jacques Villeneuve (Sauber-Petronas, eighth).

Trulli started from the front row and ran second in the early stages, before losing a little ground during each of his two refuelling stops. Fisichella was on course for fourth place until he stalled during his final stop, an incident that allowed Button to sweep through to score his best result of the campaign.

Of the remaining Michelin finishers, David Coulthard (Red Bull Racing) took 10th, ahead of Takuma Sato (B*A*R-Honda, 11th), Mark Webber (BMW WilliamsF1 Team, 12th) and Nick Heidfeld (BMW WilliamsF1 Team, 14th).

Sato was running with Trulli after the first round of stops, but he ran wide after a failed passing attempt and later lost further ground when he slithered through the gravel. Both Williams drivers had a tough afternoon – Webber needed cold water pouring on him during pit stops, due to cockpit overheating, and Heidfeld pitted six times in an effort to cure a differential problem.

Apart from Montoya, Felipe Massa (Sauber-Petronas) and Christian Klien (Red Bull Racing) were the only Michelin drivers not to reach the chequered flag. They retired with faulty hydraulics and failing fuel pressure respectively.

Pierre Dupasquier, Michelin motorsport director:

“It’s difficult to see how we could have done much better. Two of our partners opted for different strategies and finished comfortably clear of the opposition. Fernando Alonso and Kimi Räikkönen set a fantastic pace throughout the race – and the result also underlines the extraordinary job Kimi did during qualifying, when he set third fastest time with enough fuel on board for 28 laps."

"This has been a fantastic demonstration of the combined excellence of Michelin and its partner teams – and I’d like to congratulate Renault on what, for them as well as us, is a home victory.”

Nick Shorrock, director of Michelin F1 activities:

“This was a brilliant result at the end of 10 turbulent days – and it confirmed what we have always known: Michelin produces racing tyres that unite speed, durability and safety. The three different types of tyre chosen for the race fulfilled our expectations and we have had no problems at all throughout the weekend."

"The left front takes a particular pounding here, but from what I have seen they all appear to be in very good shape after 70 laps in hot conditions. This has been a tremendous race for Michelin’s team here at the track and for everybody at Clermont-Ferrand. I’d like to thank everybody for their efforts.”

Team perspective:
Bob Bell, technical director (chassis), Renault F1:

“Our tyres have been extremely fast this weekend and have given safe, consistent performance. Michelin’s pace relative to that of its rival has been evident for all to see. We are delighted to have played a part in giving the company a victory on home soil.”


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Series Formula 1
Drivers Giancarlo Fisichella , Takuma Sato , Jarno Trulli , Jenson Button , Ralf Schumacher , Michael Schumacher , Mark Webber , David Coulthard , Jacques Villeneuve , Nick Heidfeld , Kimi Raikkonen , Fernando Alonso , Felipe Massa , Christian Klien
Teams Ferrari , Red Bull Racing , Mercedes , Sauber , McLaren , Williams