World champion Michael Schumacher netted his first win of the season and the 65th of his career on Ferrari's home turf at Imola. Kimi RÃ¤ikkÃ¶nen finished second and retained his championship lead while the Scot, David Coulthard, who started 11th,...
World champion Michael Schumacher netted his first win of the season and the 65th of his career on Ferrari's home turf at Imola. Kimi Räikkönen finished second and retained his championship lead while the Scot, David Coulthard, who started 11th, battled his way to fifth and finished right on Schumacher Jnr's tail (fourth). Six Michelin drivers finished in the top 10.
Ralf led in the early stages after his Michelin-shod Williams-BMW made the best start from the outside of the front row. He led until the first round of pit stops, at which point Schumacher Snr seized an advantage he was never to lose. Ralf continued to press hard for a place in the top three, but Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari) knocked the German out of the podium positions after a spectacular late-race pass at Turn 17.
McLaren-Mercedes/Michelin drivers Kimi Räikkönen and David Coulthard opted to do just two stop while Ferrari and Williams aimed to stop three times. "I'm pleased with second place and would like to say a big thank you to the team for choosing the right strategy today. Towards the end of the race Rubens put me under a bit of pressure, but I could keep second place and the lead in the championship," said Kimi.
Spaniard Fernando Alonso underlined his exceptional promise by finishing sixth at a track that was not supposed to suit his Renault. His team mate Jarno Trulli finished 13th and used the T-car. "Today, it was good to get to the end of the race, to confirm the reliability of our car. I am obviously frustrated, because although I didn't encounter any particular problem, to race in the T-car, which wasn't set up for me, made impossible to make progress during the race," said Jarno.
Fernando Alonso, Ralf Schumacher and Kimi Räikkönen are the only drivers to have scored points in every race this season. Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams-BMW, seventh) had to make an extra stop after an error during his second scheduled pit visit and Olivier Panis (Toyota, ninth) missed out on a point but had the consolation if finishing a race for the first time this season.
Of the remaining Michelin runners, Mark Webber (Jaguar) made a slow start from fifth on the grid and was later hit by a penalty for speeding in the pit lane. He later pulled off and was the only Michelin driver not to cross the finishing line. His team-mate Antonio Pizzonia lost a lap at the start after stalling on the grid but recovered to finish 14th, behind Cristiano da Matta (Toyota, 12th).
Michelin's day -- Pierre Dupasquier Michelin Motorsport Director
A STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION
Kimi Räikkönen (McLaren-Mercedes/Michelin) put in a stunning drive to capitalise on an ambitious two-stop strategy and finish second in today's San Marino Grand Prix a result that kept his healthy world championship lead intact. As has been the pattern this season, Michelin cars swept up many of the points-scoring positions courtesy of Ralf Schumacher (BMW WilliamsF1 Team, fourth), David Coulthard (McLaren-Mercedes, fifth), Fernando Alonso (Renault, sixth) and Juan Pablo Montoya (BMW WilliamsF1 Team, seventh).
Michelin's F1 project manager Pascal Vasselon said: "This was an encouraging result because our performance at this track has taken a significant step forward this season." Motorsport director Pierre Dupasquier added: "This wasn't a bad result, given that we were racing on enemy territory."
KEEP ON RUNNIN'
Ralf Schumacher led the early stages of the race and his Michelin tyres were able to operate at full efficiency after few laps. Pierre Dupasquier said: "The longer a set of front tyres stayed on, the better it performed. Some partner teams didn't change them between every stint."
SHELTERING FROM THE GRAIN IN SPAIN
At Imola this weekend Michelin has used tyres from the softer end of its F1 product range, but it will take a very different approach at the Spanish Grand Prix on May 2-4. Pierre Dupasquier: "Barcelona has very different characteristics from Imola and places an incredibly high demand on tyres. That doesn't mean we'll be taking particularly hard compounds but they will have to be durable. We do more testing at Barcelona than at any other track, however, so we will be well prepared. I expect us to maintain the level of performance that has allowed Michelin drivers to monopolise the top two championship positions since the start of the season."