TRULLI ON TOP AS MICHELIN SETS INITIAL PACE Bibendum dominates as Formula One returns from brief summer recess Jarno Trulli (Renault/Michelin) put together a devastatingly neat and effective lap to set the pace on the opening day of the ...
TRULLI ON TOP AS MICHELIN SETS INITIAL PACE
Bibendum dominates as Formula One returns from brief summer recess
Jarno Trulli (Renault/Michelin) put together a devastatingly neat and effective lap to set the pace on the opening day of the Hungarian Grand Prix. The Italian -- who has qualified on the front row of a Formula One grid four times without ever talking pole position -- lapped in 1m 22.358s to shade closest rival Ralf Schumacher (BMW WilliamsF1 Team/Michelin) by just 0.055s.
It was another excellent day for Michelin, which is chasing its seventh grand prix success of the year. The Clermont-Ferrand firm's partner teams set the fastest three times in this morning's free practice session and locked out seven of the top 10 spots in qualifying.
Mark Webber (Jaguar, third) was best of the remaining Michelin runners, but his team-mate Justin Wilson lost vital free practice time because of a throttle malfunction. The Englishman then had to fight to retain control after clipping a kerb on his qualifying run and he ended up only 15th.
McLaren has confirmed today that it will retain David Coulthard and Kimi Räikkönen as its drivers in 2004 and they were fourth and 12th respectively. The Finn lost time when he ran wide over the kerbs. Fernando Alonso (Renault/Michelin) was sixth ahead of Olivier Panis (Toyota/Michelin). The Frenchman was fastest in this morning's free practice session but had to settle for a more modest result this afternoon.
Juan Pablo Montoya (BMW WilliamsF1 Team, eighth) heads the pursuit of world championship points leader Michael Schumacher, who was ninth, but the Colombian lost fractions of a second when he locked a wheel.
Panis's team-mate Cristiano da Matta was half a minute off the pace after spinning at Turn 13. At the time, however, he had been challenging for a place in the top 10.
Michelin's day: Pierre Dupasquier -- Michelin Motorsport Director
MICHELIN QUARTET TO THE FORE
Michelin has scored six grand prix victories and taken six pole positions this season -- and its sparkling Formula One form continued during the Hungarian Grand Prix's opening qualifying session. The Clermont-Ferrand firm's partners set the fastest four times: Jarno Trulli (Renault) spearheaded the assault ahead of Ralf Schumacher (BMW WilliamsF1 Team), Mark Webber (Jaguar) and David Coulthard (McLaren-Mercedes). Fernando Alonso (Renault, sixth), Olivier Panis (Toyota, seventh) and Juan Pablo Montoya (BMW WilliamsF1 Team, eighth) were also in the top 10.
Michelin motorsport director Pierre Dupasquier said: "As always, it is difficult to gauge the full picture from a Friday qualifying session, because track conditions have changed considerably and will continue to evolve between now and Sunday. That said, this was a very satisfying performance. To have four different teams in the top four places -- and all five partners ahead of world championship leader Michael Schumacher -- was magnificent."
Track conditions at the Hungaroring were hot and slippery this morning -- and the temperature has risen during the day. Michelin F1 programme manager Pascal Vasselon said: "We could see plumes of dust behind the cars early in the day, when the temperature was about 29 degrees -- much hotter than usual and not far off what we would expect to find in Malaysia. I am very pleased with the way things have gone: the Hungaroring has been one of the most challenging tracks we have encountered in F1 but it is clear that we have made very good progress this season."
FEAST OF ENDURANCE
Despite today's fierce, testing heat, Michelin's tyres have demonstrated an equal blend of grip and durability. Pascal Vasselon said: "We successfully completed a number of fairly long runs this morning and our wear rates look fine. As the heat has increased the track has lost a bit of grip, but our two dry-weather options seem suited to the conditions and it is likely that we will see both of them used in the race."