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British GP: Qualifying notes - Michelin

NEWS STORY
10/06/2006

Fernando Alonso will defend his world championship lead from pole position in tomorrow's British Grand Prix. The Spaniard lapped Silverstone in 1:20.253 to pip Kimi Raikkonen by 0.144s and clinch the prime starting spot for the fourth consecutive race.

Seven Michelin drivers from four partner teams will line up in the top 10. Giancarlo Fisichella qualified his Renault fifth ahead of Rubens Barrichello, Juan Pablo Montoya, Nick Heidfeld and Jacques Villeneuve.

Super Aguri team-mates Takuma Sato and Franck Montagny failed to complete this morning's final free practice after going off the track. Sato crashed heavily at the high-speed Becketts complex and, just moments later, Montagny spun into the gravel trap at Priory.

Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher set the pace during the final free practice session. Nick Heidfeld was quickest Michelin runner, in second place.

Jarno Trulli did not complete a timed lap during the first stage of the knockout qualifying session. He was forced to pit with an engine problem. Mark Webber, Christijan Albers, local favourite Jenson Button, Sato and Montagny also failed to make the top 16. David Coulthard, Nico Rosberg, Vitantonio Liuzzi, Christian Klien, Scott Speed and Tiago Monteiro were eliminated during the second qualifying phase.

Nick Shorrock, Michelin F1 director: "This was obviously another terrific qualifying performance– and it is the result of some tremendous work by Michelin's partner teams and our engineering staff. Track conditions were not quite what we expected this morning – every driver struggled to find adequate grip and that caused a slight rethink in terms of both chassis set-up and, in one or two cases, tyre choice for the race. Things became much clearer by the end of that session, however, and our six partners will use four different compounds in tomorrow's race.

"The track offered much more grip during qualifying and, for the first time this weekend, we saw some evidence of tyre graining. That isn't a concern at all. It simply underlines the fact that the tyres are working harder and are now operating in their ideal zone."

Pat Symonds, executive engineering director, Renault F1 Team: "The Michelin tyres have responded perfectly." "This is the hottest Silverstone for years and the Michelin tyres have responded perfectly to it. Qualifying has shown we have got good first lap performance from the tyres. The free practice and more particularly our pre-event testing have shown that we also have consistency. Silverstone ranks as one of the very hardest circuits for the tyres and a performance like this is a credit to all the people at Clermont Ferrand."

To check out our Silverstone qualifying gallery, click here

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