CLOSELY-MATCHED MICHELIN RIVALS SET THE PACE Kimi RÃ¤ikkÃ¶nen (Team McLaren Mercedes/Michelin) posted fastest time in the opening qualifying session for tomorrow& ...
CLOSELY-MATCHED MICHELIN RIVALS SET THE PACE
Kimi Räikkönen (Team McLaren Mercedes/Michelin) posted fastest time in the opening qualifying session for tomorrows San Marino Grand Prix. The Finn lapped in 1m 19.886s the quickest lap seen at Imola so far this weekend and that put him just 0.003s clear of world championship leader Fernando Alonso (Renault/Michelin).
Michelin is chasing its 79th F1 world championship victory and 86th pole position this weekend. It has terrific strength in depth at the head of the field, with six different Michelin- shod chassis in the top seven positions.
Mark Webber (BMW WilliamsF1 Team) was fourth, ahead of Jenson Button (B*A*R-Honda, fifth), Jarno Trulli (Toyota, sixth), Felipe Massa (Sauber-Petronas, seventh), Alexander Wurz (Team McLaren Mercedes, eighth), Nick Heidfeld (BMW WilliamsF1 Team, ninth) and Takuma Sato (B*A*R-Honda, 10th).
Jenson Button (B*A*R-Honda/Michelin) set the fastest time in this mornings final free practice sessions. The Englishman, who obtained his maiden F1 pole position at Imola in 2004, lapped in 1m 20.058s.
Ferrari has announced that it will supply engines to F1 rival Red Bull Racing in 2006 and 2007. Ferrari has been providing power to customer teams since 1991. There is no word, as yet, on whether Ferrari will continue to supply Switzerland-based Sauber, which has used its engines since 1997. Sauber driver Felipe Massa faces a 10-position grid penalty after having an engine changed at the end of Fridays free practice sessions.
Grand prix newcomer Vitantonio Liuzzi (Red Bull Racing) was 16th fastest today. The Italian, standing in for Christian Klien for at least the next three races, had the disadvantage of being first car on track when conditions are traditionally less favourable. Australian GP winner Giancarlo Fisichella was only 15th in todays qualifying session after making a time-consuming mistake at Rivazza 2.
Pierre Dupasquier, Michelin motorsport director
It has been another day that underlines Michelins ability to produce competitive tyres to suit a wide range of different cars. Ultimately, our seven partners have chosen to use two compounds in tomorrows race, although there are no significant differences between them in terms of performance or durability.
Designing tyre constructions for a circuit like Imola is reasonably straightforward, even if we have to bear in mind the excessive kerb use, but although these are the coolest conditions we have raced in this year it doesnt make it any easier to pinpoint the appropriate compounds.
So far, though, everything has run smoothly. As we seek to maintain our unbeaten run, I anticipate that Michelins tyres will deliver excellent speed and consistency the hallmarks of our season to date.
Martin Whitmarsh, CEO Formula One, Team McLaren Mercedes:
That was a tremendous qualifying performance on Kimis part. Our Michelin tyres have worked very well so far and we hope to maintain this momentum tomorrow, during the second qualifying session and the race.