French GP: Michelin Saturday qualifying notes

SCHUEY JNR SECURES MICHELIN'S FIFTH POLE OF THE SEASON Home sweet home for Bibendum as Williams-BMWs take top two spots The Formula One formbook might have been turned on its head by yesterday's inclement weather, but normal service was restored...

SCHUEY JNR SECURES MICHELIN'S FIFTH POLE OF THE SEASON
Home sweet home for Bibendum as Williams-BMWs take top two spots

The Formula One formbook might have been turned on its head by yesterday's inclement weather, but normal service was restored at a dry Magny-Cours today. Michelin and its five partner teams were in excellent form: Williams-BMW star Ralf Schumacher collected his third pole position in four races and Michelin drivers annexed eight of the top 10 places on the grid. Schumacher's 1m 15.019s lap put him only 0.117s ahead of team-mate Juan Pablo Montoya.

It is Michelin's fourth consecutive pole position and its fifth of the season. Schumacher is looking for his second victory in the space of seven days after spearheading a Williams one-two in the Grand Prix of Europe at the Nürburgring last weekend.

World championship leader Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) was the only non-Michelin driver in the top six. Kimi Räikkönen (McLaren-Mercedes, fourth) headed the remaining Michelin challengers, from David Coulthard (McLaren-Mercedes, fifth), Jarno Trulli (Renault, sixth) and Fernando Alonso (Renault, seventh). The two pairs of team-mates were very closely matched -- less than one tenth of a second apart in each case.

Mark Webber and Antonio Pizzonia (Jaguar/Michelin) were ninth and 11th respectively, while France's lone F1 representative Olivier Panis (Toyota/Michelin) was 10th. His team-mate Cristiano da Matta will line up 13th.

After profiting from drying conditions to set fastest time during the opening qualifying session, Dutchman Jos Verstappen (Minardi) was only 19th today.

Michelin's day: Pierre Dupasquier -- Michelin Motorsport Director

MICHELIN TAKES FOURTH SUCCESSIVE POLE
Michelin maintained its impressive recent run of form during qualifying for this weekend's French Grand Prix at Magny-Cours. BMW WilliamsF1 Team drivers Ralf Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya locked out the front row of the grid to secure Michelin's fourth consecutive F1 pole position and its fifth of the season. Michelin's partner teams dominated the qualifying session and annexed nine of the first 11 places on the grid.

Kimi Räikkönen (McLaren-Mercedes, fourth), David Coulthard (McLaren-Mercedes, fifth), Jarno Trulli (Renault, sixth), Fernando Alonso (Renault, seventh), Mark Webber (Jaguar, ninth), Olivier Panis (Toyota, 10th), Antonio Pizzonia (Jaguar, 11th) and Cristiano da Matta (Toyota, 13th) all have an excellent chance of obtaining strong results in tomorrow's 70-lap race.

BIBENDUM CHASES QUICK-FIRE DOUBLE
After Ralf Schumacher's impressive victory in last weekend's Grand Prix of Europe, at the Nürburgring, Michelin is chasing second Formula One win in the space of only seven days. The firm's motorsport director Pierre Dupasquier said: "I am delighted with the way the Michelin cars have performed today. The result bears out what we have seen in recent grands prix: we are constantly providing our partner teams with extremely competitive tyres."

"As always, though, there is a big difference between being fast in qualifying and being both fast and consistent in a race. Yesterday's adverse weather has hampered some of our pre-race preparations, so we haven't done as many endurance runs as we might have liked, but from what we have seen so far I don't expect there to be any problems with tyre wear tomorrow."

HARD REVISION
The revised Magny-Cours circuit is proving to be slightly more abrasive than its predecessor -- but Pierre Dupasquier expects the rate of tyre wear to diminish before the end of the race. He said: "The new section of track proved to be fairly hard on tyres initially, but it has become much easier as more rubber has been laid down and I expect things to stabilise gradually during the balance of the weekend. Michelin's partners plan to use a variety of dry-weather tyres in the race, but they are all quite close in terms of compound."

HOME SWEET HOME
The French GP is a race like any other for Michelin. Pierre Dupasquier said: "We don't try any harder because this is our home grand prix -- we simply do our very best, as always. It is very satisfying, though, to have performed so strongly when there will be as many 1,500 company employees here to watch tomorrow's race."

-michelin-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Ferrari , Mercedes , McLaren , Williams , Minardi