European GP Preview: Michelin


The 2005 Formula One world championship is entering its most intense phase – this Sunday's Grand Prix of Europe is the second of eight races compressed into only 11 weekends. Hot on the heels of its Monaco GP victory last weekend – its fourth consecutive success in the principality – Michelin will be chasing an eighth straight F1 victory.

Host venue the Nürburgring has one of the most famous names in motorsport, although it owes its celebrity to the daunting, 22.835-kilometre (14.189-mile) track that nestles in the forest alongside its contemporary counterpart.

The original Nürburgring opened in the mid-1920s and hosted 22 world championship grands prix between 1950 and 1976. It was dropped from the schedule one season before Michelin began its original F1 adventure.

The present track was extended in 2002 and now measures 5.148 kilometres (3.199 miles). It was first included on the F1 calendar in 1984 and this weekend marks its 13th appearance. It is the 15th time the GP of Europe has counted towards the world championship. The Nürburgring has previously staged the event on nine occasions and has been its permanent home since 1999. The German and Luxembourg GPs have also taken place here.

Michelin has won the GP of Europe on three occasions: 1983 (Nelson Piquet, Brabham- BMW, Brands Hatch), 1984 (Alain Prost, McLaren TAG Turbo, Nürburgring) and 2003 (Ralf Schumacher, Williams-BMW, Nürburgring). In last year's corresponding fixture, Takuma Sato (B·A·R-Honda/Michelin) made history as the first Japanese driver to start a world championship grand prix from the front row of the grid. His team-mate Jenson Button was the leading Michelin finisher, in third place.

Pierre Dupasquier, Michelin motorsport director: It is always slightly tricky to prepare tyres for events at the Nürburgring, because the weather is unpredictable throughout the year. Even in May, it might vary by up to 20 degrees from one week to the next. In meteorological terms it certainly isn't as stable as Monaco, where we recorded our seventh straight Formula One success last weekend.

Our latest grand prix victory puts us in good heart coming into Sunday's race. The Nürburgring is a balanced track and, fickle weather apart, doesn't pose any specific technical problems. There have been no major changes since last season, so we are dealing with a known quantity. We have evaluated some interesting tyre options during recent testing and I'm sure we will continue to give our partner teams a performance edge, just as we have at every circuit this season.

Ralf Schumacher, Panasonic Toyota Racing: Controlling tyre wear is a massive factor at every track and the Nürburgring is no different. The circuit is fairly typical in Formula One terms and has become even more so since it was modified a couple of years ago. The surface is usually quite abrasive at the beginning of the weekend, but then tends to calm down.

Wet tyres will be an important consideration, too, because the weather can be very changeable so we have to be prepared for every contingency. Come what may, I am confident that Michelin will rise to any challenge. On a personal note, I always enjoy this race and its atmosphere because it is the closest F1 circuit to Kerpen, where I grew up.

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Published: 24/05/2005
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