FISICHELLA SECURES PODIUM FINISH FOR MICHELIN Giancarlo Fisichella (Renault) was the leading Michelin finisher in today's United States. The Italian drove a strong race to finish third, behind the Ferraris of Michael Schumacher and Felipe ...
FISICHELLA SECURES PODIUM FINISH FOR MICHELIN
Giancarlo Fisichella (Renault) was the leading Michelin finisher in today's United States. The Italian drove a strong race to finish third, behind the Ferraris of Michael Schumacher and Felipe Massa.
It was a tough race for Michelin, which lost six of its leading cars as the result of a multiple accident at the first corner. About 10 drivers were caught up in the incident and Nick Heidfeld (BMW Sauber F1 Team/Michelin) was launched into a series of rolls.
McLaren Mercedes drivers Juan Pablo Montoya and Kimi Räikkönen were also eliminated, as were fellow Michelin runners Christian Klien (Red Bull), Scott Speed (Toro Rosso) and Jenson Button (Honda). Button rejoined after being involved in the initial mêlée but had to retire soon afterwards.
The Safety Car was deployed for six laps while the wreckage was cleared and Fisichella was trapped initially behind team-mate Fernando Alonso, who made a good start from fifth on the grid to pass third-fastest qualifier Fisichella at the original start. As the race settled down, however, Fisichella moved back ahead of Alonso and took a comfortable third place, well clear of Jarno Trulli (Toyota).
Alonso slipped behind Trulli, who started from the pits and gained ground with a single- stop strategy, but fifth place keeps the Spaniard 19 points clear of Schumacher in the title race with 10 of the 18 races completed.
Rubens Barrichello (Honda, sixth), David Coulthard (Red Bull, seventh) and Vitantonio Liuzzi (Scuderia Toro Rosso, eighth) also scored points on Michelin tyres - a world championship first in Toro Rosso's case. Coulthard underlined Michelin's durability by running a 47-lap opening stint - the race's longest by a margin of four laps.
It proved to be a race of real attrition, with just nine of the 22 starters still running at the end, but Jacques Villeneuve (BMW Sauber F1 Team) was the only Michelin driver to retire for reasons unrelated to the opening-lap pile-up. He was lying seventh when his engine failed on lap 24.
Michelin is now preparing for its home race, at Magny-Cours on July 16, and will be evaluating tyre compounds and constructions in a test at Jerez, Spain, this week.
Nick Shorrock, Michelin Formula One director:
"The tyres we brought this weekend were designed to give us a combination of durability and performance. We succeeded handsomely in the first part of our quest - witness David Coulthard's 47-lap stint - but, for once, we fell short in the second. As always, though, we'll learn lessons from what happened and put them into practice at future events."
"There have been a number of positives this weekend. The public enjoyed a g ood show and the atmosphere at Indianapolis has been fantastic since we first arrived. Despite losing six cars as a result of the first-lap pile-up, five Michelin drivers from four partner teams finished in the top eight - and I'd like to compliment Scuderia Toro Rosso on scoring its maiden championship point."
"Our immediate focus now is the forthcoming Jerez test, where we will be evaluating tyres for the French Grand Prix. Weekends like this serve as a spur to everybody at Michelin and I expect us to be back to our customarily competitive best at Magny-Cours."
Team perspective on tyres
Pat Symonds, executive engineering director, Renault F1 Team:
"A circuit as demanding as Indianapolis- particularly when track temperatures get into the fifties - requires a lot from the tyres. Michelin responded to this in a conscientious way and while we may not have won this weekend, we can still hold our heads high. Just like all of us at Renault, Michelin will be determined to bounce back strongly at their home race in Magny-Cours."