Malaysian GP: Michelin preview

This weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix is the second of three Formula One races on as many continents in the opening month of the 2004 season. Michelin has an excellent track record in this event: it scored the first podium finish of its F1 comeback...

This weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix is the second of three Formula One races on as many continents in the opening month of the 2004 season. Michelin has an excellent track record in this event: it scored the first podium finish of its F1 comeback campaign at Sepang in 2001 and has been undefeated here for the past two seasons. Ralf Schumacher (BMW WilliamsF1 Team) won for Michelin in 2002 and Kimi Räikkönen (West McLaren Mercedes) scored his maiden F1 victory in last year's corresponding event.

Pierre Dupasquier, Michelin motorsport director:

"The season is still in its infancy but Malaysia is clearly a very important race because it will help to give us a clearer idea of this year's hierarchy. We dominated this event in 2003, when Fernando Alonso qualified on pole position for Renault and Kimi Räikkönen strolled to a comfortable victory for McLaren."

"That doesn't mean we will take anything for granted as we pursue a Malaysian hat trick, but we are confident that our six partners will have tyres that are capable of winning the race. Our main rival team performed very strongly two weeks ago in Australia but that simply inspires us in our quest to deliver ever better performance. We thrive on a challenge - it's part of the Michelin culture."

Pascal Vasselon, Michelin Formula One programme manager:

"Preparing suitable tyres for Sepang presents one or two obvious difficulties. This is usually the hottest race of the year and track temperatures can reach 55 degrees. That isn't a problem in itself, but it is not practical to test in Malaysia and we have to develop tyres for these conditions while running at European circuits during the winter, when ground temperatures are typically between 10 and 20 degrees. This makes it difficult, as conditions are obviously very different."

"Our previous experience and record at Sepang make things a little easier and we are getting better all the time at analysing and correlating data from various circuits in Europe to prepare for conditions like those found in Malaysia."

"Sepang has no extreme characteristics other than its traditionally oppressive heat. The fuel penalty is about 0.4 seconds per lap for every extra 10kg and in terms of tyre wear it is about average. It's a little bit more demanding than Melbourne, where we raced two weeks ago, but that is due to the abrasive surface rather than the weather."

"This is a very varied circuit with a blend of slow, quick and medium corners but none presents any particular difficulties and we will bring along a selection of compounds from the 'medium' sector of our range."

-michelin-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Ralf Schumacher , Kimi Raikkonen , Fernando Alonso
Teams Mercedes , McLaren , Williams