RÃ„IKKÃ–NEN ADDS SPICE TO TITLE RACE - MICHELIN WINS AGAIN Kimi RÃ¤ikkÃ¶nen (Team McLaren Mercedes/Michelin) dominated the Hungarian Grand Prix - 13th of this year's 19 Formula One world championship races - despite having to overcome an ...
RÄIKKÖNEN ADDS SPICE TO TITLE RACE - MICHELIN WINS AGAIN
Kimi Räikkönen (Team McLaren Mercedes/Michelin) dominated the Hungarian Grand Prix - 13th of this year's 19 Formula One world championship races - despite having to overcome an unfavourable starting slot in yesterday's qualifying session.
Räikkönen was forced to run first in qualifying, a consequence of his retirement from the previous weekend's German GP. Despite that, he lined up fourth, worked his way into second position on the opening lap and swept into the lead shortly after half-distance.
Thereafter he pulled away from closest rival Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), who started from pole position but faded as the race wore on. The German was more than half a minute in arrears by the end of 70 laps in hot, gruelling conditions. "The car felt really good throughout the race" said Kimi. "and the Michelin tyres were perfect right up until the last lap."
The race began dramatically. At the first corner, world championship leader Fernando Alonso (Renault/Michelin) was forced over the kerbs to avoid a collision with Ralf Schumacher (Toyota/Michelin). Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari) ran into Jarno Trulli, in the second Toyota, and the unfortunate Christian Klien (Red Bull/Michelin) was launched into a roll after running over Sauber driver Jacques Villeneuve's front wheel. The Austrian escaped uninjured.
Later in the lap, Alonso's front wing flew off - and Klien's team-mate David Coulthard lost a front wheel after running into the debris. Alonso subsequently pitted for repairs.
The race soon settled down, with Michael Schumacher and Räikkönen - both three-stopping - leading the Finn's team-mate Juan Pablo Montoya, who planned to refuel only twice. It was beginning to look as though McLaren's split strategies would pay off with a one-two finish, but Montoya retired with a broken driveshaft on lap 41.
Ralf Schumacher (Toyota/Michelin) passed team-mate Jarno Trulli during the first round of stops and closed onto his elder brother's tail in the closing stages, but he was unable to find a way through at one of the season's tightest tracks. Trulli took fourth.
"We were a bit lucky at the start because both cars were touched from behind going into the first corner. Ralf didn't pick up any damage but Jarno's diffuser and rear wing endplate were damaged, so it's natural that he was struggling for balance. Nonetheless, both cars and their tyres were good enough to keep up the pace." said Tsutomu Tomita, Panasonic Toyota Racing, Team principal.
Michelin drivers completed the points scorers, with Jenson Button (B*A*R -Honda) taking fifth in front of Nick Heidfeld (BMW WilliamsF1 Team), Mark Webber (BMW WilliamsF1 Team) and Takuma Sato (B*A*R-Honda). The latter finally scored his first point of the campaign to end an appalling run of luck.
Of the other Michelin runners, Giancarlo Fisichella (Renault) was ninth, after a couple of off- track excursions, Alonso finished 11th and Felipe Massa (Sauber) was classified 14th after a lengthy pit stop to address some electronic problems. Massa's team-mate Villeneuve was similarly afflicted problems and pulled off to retire 14 laps from the end.
Pierre Dupasquier, Michelin motorsport director:
"This was another fantastic result for Michelin. McLaren adopted an excellent strategy all weekend and reaped the rewards. Our tyres delivered strong, consistent performance throughout the race. Jenson Button set his fastest lap right at the end which apparently wasn't possible for all participants. That underlined Michelin's durability in some of the hottest, most testing conditions we will face this season."
Nick Shorrock, director of Michelin F1 activities:
"That was a marvellous drive by Kimi and it is yet another brilliant result for Michelin. It's a shame that technical problems denied McLaren and Michelin a one-two, but we can take great heart from the strength of our tyre performance throughout the weekend. After his final pit stop, Kimi was able to pull away from Michael Schumacher quite easily - even though he was running with much more fuel. That spoke volumes for Michelin's performance and durability."
Martin Whitmarsh, CEO Formula One, Team McLaren Mercedes:
"That was a great drive by Kimi - he is clearly a champion in the making. The only disappointment for us was that Juan Pablo Montoya was unable to finish. Our Michelin tyres have been great all weekend. They were extremely consistent and really allowed us to attack Ferrari in the second part of the race. I'd like to extend my thanks to the whole Michelin team for their work."
John Howett, president, Panasonic Toyota Racing:
"Both our drivers raced very strongly today. This is a very good result for us and we were delighted with the speed and consistency of our Michelin tyres."