German GP: Michelin Friday qualifying notes

SCHUMACHER Jnr spearheads effective Bibendum challenge Michelin drivers set fastest seven times during one-sided opening day in Germany Many fans have come to Hockenheim to support Michael Schumacher -- but his younger brother Ralf stole the ...

SCHUMACHER Jnr spearheads effective Bibendum challenge
Michelin drivers set fastest seven times during one-sided opening day in Germany

Many fans have come to Hockenheim to support Michael Schumacher -- but his younger brother Ralf stole the limelight as the German Grand Prix began in earnest. The BMW WilliamsF1 Team/Michelin star set the pace in the opening qualifying session and his 1m 14.427s lap put him 0.246s clear of team-mate -- and closest challenger -- Juan Pablo Montoya. This afternoon all five Michelin partners lined up in the top 10 "The balance is brilliant and the tyres are working well. " said Ralf

The Williams drivers' form capped an excellent day for Michelin and its five partner teams. While Ferrari talisman Schumacher Snr struggled all day -- he ran off the track three times during this morning's free practice session and qualified only ninth -- Michelin drivers claimed all but two on the top 10 spots.

Jarno Trulli (Renault) was third, ahead of Mark Webber (Jaguar, fourth), Fernando Alonso (Renault, fifth) and Kimi Räikkönen (McLaren-Mercedes, sixth). Justin Wilson made a promising start to his career with Jaguar. The former Minardi driver completed more than a race distance as he acclimatised to the R4 chassis during this morning's test and free practice sessions. He subsequently qualified seventh -- faster than both Ferraris.

David Coulthard (McLaren-Mercedes) topped this morning's free practice session, but he couldn't improve upon 11th place this afternoon. He split Toyota/Michelin drivers Olivier Panis and Cristiano da Matta, who were 10th and 15th respectively.

Former world champion Jacques Villeneuve (B*A*R-Honda) had a troubled run today: the French-Canadian spun at the first corner and aborted his lap. Minardi newcomer Nicolas Kiesa had a difficult start to his maiden grand prix: the Dane has been hired to replace Wilson at Minardi, but his car stopped before he had reached the end of the pit lane.

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

RALF SPEARHEADS MICHELIN CHALLENGE
The majority of the Hockenheim crowd might be supporting Michael Schumacher this weekend -- but they saved their cheers for his younger brother Ralf in today's opening qualifying session. Chasing his second home grand prix success with the BMW WilliamsF1 Team and Michelin, Schumacher Jnr lapped in 1m 14.427s to take provisional pole position. Michelin drivers dominated the session and took eight places in the top 10: Juan Pablo Montoya (BMW WilliamsF1 Équipe) Jarno Trulli (Renault), Mark Webber (Jaguar) Fernando Alonso (Renault), Kimi Räikkönen (West McLaren-Mercedes), Justin Wilson (Jaguar), Olivier Panis (Panasonic Toyota Racing).

SIMMER HOLIDAY
Teams and drivers are coping with extremely hot conditions this weekend at Hockenheim, in the final grand prix before Formula One takes its brief summer recess. Michelin motorsport director Pierre Dupasquier said: "We had an excellent result today. I am not expecting an easy race, though, because the sweltering conditions will take their toll on drivers, engines, cars and tyres alike. That said, we were able to do a series of endurance runs in this morning, about 12 to 15 laps at a time, and we had no problems at all with wear rates, so that puts me in a very positive frame of mind. We have both pace and durability."

WAITS AND MEASURES
Michelin has brought two different dry-weather tyre compounds to this weekend's German GP -- and both are available with a variety of constructions. Pierre Dupasquier said: "The two compounds represent very different philosophies -- but so far they have produced quite similar performance. It is too early to predict which of them might prove most effective during the balance of the weekend, because the track was still very green this morning and we haven't yet seen the full picture."

Michelin's F1 programme manager Pascal Vasselon added: "Both compounds have performed extremely well so far but it is possible that the heat might make one of them a better option for Sunday. We won't really know about that until tomorrow, when track conditions will have evolved and should be closer to what we might see in the race."

-michelin-

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