Italian GP: Michelin preview

Following its trip to the Belgian Ardennes the Formula One world regroups at the famous Monza circuit in Italy during the weekend of September 14/15. Teams are preparing for the 15th round of this year's world championship, which is the final ...

Following its trip to the Belgian Ardennes the Formula One world regroups at the famous Monza circuit in Italy during the weekend of September 14/15. Teams are preparing for the 15th round of this year's world championship, which is the final European race of the season.

At Spa Kimi Räikkönen (West McLaren-Mercedes) came close to securing pole position and Juan Pablo Montoya (BMW WilliamsF1 Team) finished a strong third. With three races to go the Colombian driver has every chance of clinching second place in the world championship for drivers.

Reflecting on the Belgian Grand Prix, Michelin motorsport director Pierre Dupasquier says: "Taking the weekend as a whole this was our most convincing performance for quite some time. We opted to use two interesting dry-weather tyre options with subtle differences in compound and they proved to be very competitive."

Throughout the weekend Michelin and its partners were quicker than all their rival teams apart from the indomitable Scuderia Ferrari. "In the race Michael Schumacher set off at a frenetic pace - he was a second per lap faster than team-mate Rubens Barrichello and more than three seconds quicker than any other car on the same make of tyre. How does one explain that?"

Monza -- speed temple of the Tifosi

The famous Autodromo Nazionale di Monza was built in 1922 and is situated in a municipal park about 15 kilometres north of Milan. The 5.793-kilometre (3.599-mile) track is staging a grand prix for the 53rd time this weekend and is the fastest circuit on the F1 calendar. Cars reach about 360 km/h (224mph) at certain points and average lap speeds exceed 250 km/h (155mph).

Outlining some of the characteristics of the Italian circuit, Michelin's F1 project chief Pascal Vasselon says: "At Monza teams tend to sacrifice cornering speed in order to run more quickly down the long straights. Our job is therefore to develop tyres that go some way towards compensating this lack of downforce, particularly through corners such as Lesmo and Parabolica, not to mention the several chicanes. You also need good grip under braking, which combined with good car set-up allows the driver to spend the least amount of time braking. Traditionally Monza is a one-stop race. A heavy fuel load costs about three-tenths of a second per lap for every extra 10 kilos you carry, but the rate of tyre wear tends not to be too high."

Vasselon and Michelin's partner teams made full use of the recent official F1 test at Monza. He says: "The work we did here last week directly influenced our choice of tyres for this race. Given the nature of the track and the probability of high ambient temperatures, it's blistering that defines the limits - ideally you want a tyre whose compound is just within this limit. We will have two new types of dry-weather tyre that have already been evaluated and we hope to give our partner teams the kind of performance advantage they enjoyed at Spa."

-michelin-

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