MICHELIN ON TOP AS DE LA ROSA SETS PRACTICE PACE Michelin and its seven Formula One partners have started the Japanese Grand Prix weekend on a bright note, with test drivers Pedro de la Rosa (McLaren Mercedes) and Ricardo Zonta (Toyota) setting...
MICHELIN ON TOP AS DE LA ROSA SETS PRACTICE PACE
Michelin and its seven Formula One partners have started the Japanese Grand Prix weekend on a bright note, with test drivers Pedro de la Rosa (McLaren Mercedes) and Ricardo Zonta (Toyota) setting fastest times in the two free practice sessions.
De la Rosa posted a 1m 30.532s in the morning, 0.15s clear of Zonta's best effort in the afternoon, when a rain shower intervened before every driver had been able to set a representative time.
Jenson Button (B*A*R-Honda) was fourth overall and quickest of Michelin's regular race drivers. David Coulthard (Red Bull racing, fifth), Juan Pablo Montoya McLaren Mercedes, seventh), world champion Fernando Alonso (Renault, eighth), Giancarlo Fisichella (Renault, ninth) and local favourite Takuma Sato (B*A*R-Honda) were the other Michelin runners to feature in the top 10.
Kimi Raikkonen faces a 10-position grid penalty - his fourth this season - in the wake of an unscheduled engine change.
Red Bull/Michelin test driver Vitantonio Liuzzi missed most of the second free practice session after a technical problem caused him to stop as he negotiated the final chicane.
Pierre Dupasquier, Michelin motorsport director:
"We weren't able to complete our full dry-weather programme, because of the rain, and we weren't able to gain any conclusive information about our wets because conditions changed constantly once it started to drizzle."
"That said, we completed enough dry runs to permit valid comparisons between our 'prime' and 'option' compounds and our initial analysis indicates that both will be suitable for race conditions."
"Forecasts suggest the weather is likely to remain unstable for the balance of the weekend, but that isn't a serious concern because Michelin has proved throughout the season that it can produce excellent tyres for any circumstances."