FIA Formula One World Championship 2001 Spanish Grand Prix Sunday, April 29, 2001 Juan Pablo Montoya's superb showing for the BMW.WilliamsF1 Team-Michelin in the Brazilian Grand Prix certainly brought a smile to the lips of the whole Michelin ...
FIA Formula One World Championship 2001
Spanish Grand Prix
Sunday, April 29, 2001
Juan Pablo Montoya's superb showing for the BMW.WilliamsF1 Team-Michelin in the Brazilian Grand Prix certainly brought a smile to the lips of the whole Michelin staff. Everyone was satisfied to see that the enormous amount of work, which had been going on for more than a year, was being rewarded with some sterling performances during the company's comeback season in Formula 1. Even so, not even the most optimistic members of the crew had dared envisage a win in only the fourth grand prix of the campaign - but that's exactly what happened at Imola.
This time, in the Italian sunshine, it was Montoya's team-mate Ralf Schumacher's (BMW.WilliamsF1 Team-Michelin) turn to be a star. The younger brother of Michael, who was overwhelming favourite to win the season's first grand prix in Europe, Ralf qualified second on the grid, just three-tenths of a second away from pole position. He made a perfect start to work his way into the lead at the first corner. Thereafter he drove an immaculate race and ended the afternoon climbing to the highest step of the podium.
So faultless was his performance that he almost made F1 look easy. But while the combination of a Williams chassis, BMW engine, Michelin tyres and Ralf Schumacher's talent proved to be the ideal blend at Imola, Michelin knows all too well that it will have to double its efforts if it wants to add to this first success. Even so, it was a source of great satisfaction to experience the thrill of leading for 62 laps as the company notched up its 60th success as an F1 tyre supplier.
According to Michelin motorsport director Pierre Dupasquier, "People are expecting a lot of Michelin in Barcelona because it is the track at which we gained most experience during our pre-season test programme. We hadn't done anything much at Imola before the race, but does that mean Barcelona will be even better? Not at all!
"Sure, Michelin put in some excellent performances at the Catalan track while it was learning about grooved tyres and researching the best constructions to use. But since then both the cars and their tyres have moved on. For Michelin Barcelona will be like everywhere else we have been this season - a fresh start with brand- new tyres."
The 4.727 km (2.937-mile) Barcelona track underlines the need for a balanced chassis like few others. Its succession of quick corners and straights, which demand extreme finesse when it comes to setting up the car, make it a very popular test venue within the focused world of F1. The surface is very abrasive and the long corners place particular demands on front left tyres.
Next Sunday, the teams and Michelin will have to be on their toes for the 65-lap Spanish GP, which lasts for 307.26 km (190.931 miles).