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The Michelin factor 
The Heretic  

26 June - 1 July News  
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1-Jul: What the teams and drivers said following the Race at Magny Cours ... Report

1-Jul: At the post Race press conference for the French Grand Prix, Michael Schumacher explained his bad start was due to a clutch problem and said "I almost lost a position against David. We came very close in the first corner. I was inside, he was outside, so I kept it going until we would see what happened in turn three, but he pulled over already in turn one so the line was clear. But it was quite close, very close to losing it, and imagining being behind him and then working with the strategy would have been far more difficult, so it was ideal to be behind Ralf, although he was very fast in his first stint."
He described the result as perfect with himself, his brother and his team-mate on the podium and said "I think our strategy worked better honestly, it wasn't because Ralf had a problem, I guess, at least, from what I have seen. They stayed out longer which in my view means more fuel, longer pit stop and we were a bit shorter. My second set was really very good. I was really flying. I did have a little bit of problem on my third set, I wasn't as fast any more as I was with my second. We will find out what's going on there. Anyway, it's the perfect result. In Canada, we had one-two Ralf-myself and now we one-two myself and Ralf and Rubens next to us, a bit unexpected I guess for Rubens, coming from where he came; he did a perfect race, so obviously a very good day for Ferrari."
As for his 4th world title hopes, Michael said "Unfortunately for you guys I am a bit too realistic. We have seen last year being thrown out by two races behind each other, how quickly things can turn around again, although, you have to be honest, it's a very comfortable lead that we are in now but there are still seven races to go, 70 points to give away so there's no reason to start celebrating before it's done, until mathematically nothing is secured, I will keep fighting as we have done today."
Michael described his 50th win as great and said "It was hard work and winning is always enjoyable, in the way it went today, it was fun. Number 50 is a great number. For the championship it's a big step forward and so it was obviously a very exciting race in all means."

Ralf Schumacher indicated that he was happy to finish second given his pit stop problem and a problem with his tyres on the second set and said "I had a pit stop problem. That's why we lost a position I guess, in the first place. But in the second stint my set didn't work at all. I was so slow, really. I was losing everything and I had to come in earlier than expected. If I would have come out in front of Michael I think it would have been difficult to hold him behind me. I am actually happy to sit here in second today because it was a disaster and really difficult to drive."
Ralf indicated that it is possible for him to take 2nd from Coulthard but winning the championship is what matters to him and said "I think it's possible but second or third doesn't really change a lot does it? I want us to win and obviously he (Michael) is on that for this year. I'll try next year. It would be nice if it is possible but McLaren seems to have closed the gap a little bit in performance. They had a bit of bad luck today so I'm sure it's going to be difficult."

Rubens Barrichello was a bit surprised to finish 3rd thanks to a brilliant strategy by Ross Brawn. He said "Well, I guess I am a little bit (surprised), but in a way I sorted out my problems that I had yesterday in qualifying. Qualifying was horrible for me, I never really knew what was going on. The car was oversteering in some places, understeering in other places. This morning the car felt a lot better and I was going really well on my first stint, saving a lot of fuel at that time, and Ross came on the radio and said 'would you like to try a three stop' and I said 'I think so, it's a good idea, because then I can be quick on the track the whole time and by doing 2 stops I might only finish in front of the Jordans, so let's try.' I think it was a really good try and I thank the team very much because it was a hell of a race."
Rubens added that his 3rd set of tyres blistered and that is why David Coulthard almost passed him and said "Well my first three sets of tyres were really good. The last one I think I blistered the rears so early and that was the problem. I couldn't brake for turn five and I was struggling a lot. A couple of times David almost put the car alongside me but I was able to hold on. I think starting from eighth and finishing third is a good achievement."

1-Jul: French Grand Prix - Race: Michael Schumacher wins his 50th race in his career ahead of Ralf Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello. David Coulthard, Jarno Trulli and Nick Heidfeld make the top 6 ... Timed Results ... Full Report ... Notes 

1-Jul: French Grand Prix - Warm-up Session: Mika Hakkinen sets the fastest time of the session ahead of Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello. David Coulthard, Jarno Trulli and Kimi Raikkonen make the top 6 ... Timed Results ... Full Report ... Notes 

1-Jul: Both Eddie Irvine and Jacques Villeneuve have expressed their concern over the blocking tactics used by Michael Schumacher at the start of races and warned that it could lead to dangerous collisions. 
Eddie Irvine described the situation as downright dangerous and said "There is only one way to deal with Michael's antics - and that is to stand up to him. No way would Michael have tried it with me, Jacques Villeneuve or Juan Pablo Montoya, because he knows we would not give an inch. He has come across the soft touches so far and, while Ralf has been saying he is prepared to do the same thing to Michael if the situation presents itself, I am not holding my breath. While everyone keeps backing off from Michael, he will continue getting away with it. He constantly points out that the way he sweeps across the track to block a rival from getting the better of him going into the first corner is perfectly legal. Sure, it is within the laws of the track, because the rules state you can move once in one direction. But while he may not be breaking the regulations, it does not mean it is safe. In fact, I honestly feel it is downright dangerous. 
There is another rule in the Formula One book which stresses drivers can be penalized for causing an avoidable collision. The only reason Michael has not been charged with that yet is because the other guy he is attacking keeps backing off. That is a bit like someone going around the streets throwing knives at people or shooting at them all day long. As long as none of the people is hurt or killed, it becomes impossible to bring a harsh penalty into play. I feel it is going to take a serious injury, or even a death, before officials see the light and revise this rule."

Jacques Villeneuve was equally critical of the blocking and said "I've been starting away from Michael for quite a time now so I'm not sure, but if you don't lift and there's an accident, there's 20 cars coming behind you and there's a good chance you're going to get hurt. So it's a very difficult situation. I'm not sure what I'd do whether I would lift in that situation or not.
I'm just surprised that it was Ralf on the other side but that's how we've seen Michael do most of his starts in the last three or four years and nobody seems to think it's bad. I think it's a good example of following to the letter what is written in the regulation book even though it is not following the spirit of what was written. Everybody knows why it was written and everybody understands it. It was written so you don't put someone on the grass, so you don't force someone else to hit the brakes. But then I guess if you just read it as it's written then it allows you to move at any time. That's not the intent of the rule. But I'm sure Michael can understand that because he's 'Mr Safety' after all, so I'm sure he's intelligent enough to understand the meaning of the rules."

Bridgestone have announced that they will remain in Formula 1 as long as possible and expect more tyre manufacturers to get involved in Formula 1. Shigeo Watanabe, CEO of Bridgestone Corporation said "Our involvement has contributed a great deal to our tyre business. Being in Formula 1 has boosted our corporate image generally, and has put us at the forefront of tyre technology in the eyes of the world. I am delighted that cars on Bridgestone tyres have already won seven races this year, which is bringing us and our partners worldwide attention. Michael Schumacher is leading the championship for Bridgestone and the other two top three drivers are also on our tyres. I congratulate them all on their performances so far. Formula 1 is one of the most popular sports in the world and provides entertainment and interest for millions of people. In addition, our involvement provides us with an outlet for our technical expertise and has led to a transfer of technology that benefits all users of Bridgestone tyres. In the future, more car manufacturers will be involved in Formula 1 and we believe the number of tyre manufacturers will increase also. This will enhance further the profile of our business once again. Bridgestone will continue its involvement in Formula 1 for as long as possible. I would like to thank the organisers, teams and the media who have supported us since 1997 and hope they will continue to do so in the future."

The Minardi team boss Paul Stoddard has accused the Arrows team of deliberately blocking his driver Fernando Alonso during qualifying and said "What would otherwise have been a reasonably good qualifying session for European Minardi was marred by an intentional blocking manoeuvre by Arrows and its driver, Enrique Bernoldi, which spoiled Fernando’s last run. This was orchestrated by a member of the Arrows team, positioned in the pit lane, who ensured Bernoldi’s exit from his garage was timed to perfection. This unsporting behaviour undoubtedly lost Fernando what would have been his best run of the afternoon."

30-Jun: At the post Qualifying press conference for the French Grand Prix, Ralf Schumacher indicated that the fight for pole was very tight even though he didn't expect win it and said "It was very tight indeed. In actual fact I didn't expect, after this morning, that we were able to beat them here, but it worked out. It was very tight but it was enough."
As for how special this first pole for himself and the team, Ralf said "It is special for the team maybe. For me it is nice to be on pole position, but then Saturday doesn't count. I would rather hope that we have a good day tomorrow and that I watch the white lines a bit better this time."
As for the start with his brother Michael behind him, Ralf said "I hope that since I'm in pole position that I have a good start and go away. That would be the perfect scenario, but if it comes down to it I would do the same (as Michael did at the Nurburgring) - I mean I have to defend my position as he has. Normal thing, isn't it?
I think we are going to have a tight race again. We have to see what the tyres are doing. From what we've seen so far from Bridgestone this weekend they look to perform very good, very well. We will have to see whether we are able to keep up."

Michael Schumacher indicated that he could have done better had as he had some traffic on his quickest lap and said "I just had traffic on my third run, which I would say could have been the fastest run, but that's the way it goes. If you come together you may say that you could have gone faster, but that doesn't count. What is the result finally is him (Ralf) having pole position, that counts and it's a good way to celebrate his birthday anyway."
As for how would he feel if Ralf blocked him at the start tomorrow, Michael said "The same as he felt to me. I think you're obviously not excited but that's the way racing goes and I have no problem with that. I have been in that situation very often in the past with other drivers to me, I have put other drivers in the same situation - that's part of racing."

David Coulthard indicated that he was encouraged to be closer to the top 2 and said "I think we can take encouragement because generally the car was capable of being quicker but you have to make a decision when you're doing the lap as to whether you're trying to gain that little bit of time which will help you up the grid, or obviously you can go over the top and lose time. I think we have to be encouraged that we were actually so much closer here than we were at the Nurburgring. This is a lot closer than we have been in qualifying for recent races, obviously Monaco aside. I don't recall what the gap was in Canada but I think I was third on the grid there as well."
Coulthard was confident for the race and said "As you've seen this year, the races are a completely different issue. In qualifying, we haven't shown to be particularly strong other than at a couple of circuits. In the races we have been a bit stronger. Obviously it's always a bit difficult to know exactly where we stand because the Williams being on a different tyre, we can know roughly where we compare with the Ferrari, but we just don't know what to expect from them (Williams). We do our race and yes, we can gain places."

30-Jun: What the teams and drivers said following Qualifying at Magny Cours ... Report

30-Jun: French Grand Prix - Qualifying Session: Ralf Schumacher grabs his first pole position of his career ahead of his brother Michael Schumacher with David Coulthard in 3rd. Mika Hakkinen, Jarno Trulli and Juan Pablo Montoya make the top 6 ... Timed Results ... Full Report ... Notes 

30-Jun: French Grand Prix - 2nd Saturday Practice: Michael Schumacher remains fastest ahead of Ralf Schumacher and David Coulthard. Mika Hakkinen, Jarno Trulli and Rubens Barrichello make the top 6 ... Timed Results ... Full Report ... Notes

30-Jun: French Grand Prix - 1st Saturday Practice: Michael Schumacher sets the fastest time ahead of David Coulthard and Ralf Schumacher. Rubens Barrichello, Juan Pablo Montoya and Jarno Trulli make the top 6 ... Timed Results ... Full Report ... Notes 

29-Jun: At the Friday press conference for the French Grand Prix, Olivier Panis indicated that he is happy to be racing at his home GP and said "I am very happy to be racing again in my home Grand Prix and I'm very happy to be racing in front of French spectators. It's very important, but I'm not very lucky here all the time. I expect this year will be better for me."
Panis added that he is very positive for qualifying and said "We're very positive, the car is going well here today. Last Grand Prix we didn't find the best solution but I think here is much better for us. Jacques worked very well today and I will take some of the data for my car for tomorrow, but I'm very positive for tomorrow."
He indicated that while Honda are lacking power this year, next year will be a big step up and said "I think Honda is in Formula One to win but I'm sure that next year we will have a completely new engine and that will be a big step up. This year the engine is quite good but we need more power to be honest. But everybody needs more power. I think Honda will make a very strong job for next year."

Jean Alesi explained the reason why he gives away his helmets when he gets a good result and said "It's a feeling I have inside and I share everything. Even when I'm not happy, I share it with my friend Alain, so when I'm happy I share it with the fans."
As for the number of helmets he has given away so far he said "The helmets are OK, Alain wants to charge me for the radios!"
As for the competitiveness of the car here, Alesi said "Honestly, it was a very good surprise for me because I was not expecting that. When you talk with engineers, they don't go into detail to say what they are doing. I'm talking about Henri Durand. When I saw the new modifications for the first time yesterday, I was quite impressed. Today we tested them and it looks like they are a good improvement. On my car, we did back to back tests. It's very interesting to see how we can make some progress like that, even if everybody is working in the same direction but we are there and I'm very pleased to see that."
And on when he will quit Formula 1 as he is currently the oldest driver in the field, Alesi said "It's a fact, but what is very important is not to mix veteran and retired drivers. That's very important for me. That's why sometimes I'm not very happy with the way I am presented to the people because to be 37, as I am now, and the time to leave Formula One is different. For sure, I won't stay in Formula One for long, but another couple of years would be OK. That's how I feel."

Fernando Alonso indicated that they have a few improvements in the pipeline that he hopes will enable him to qualify higher and said "We lost something compared with other teams because everybody improved their performance in qualifying and the races, and for us it has been a bit difficult, in the last two races, to be 18th or 19th as before. But we have some improvement for Silverstone and maybe for Hockenheim, with a new gearbox and a new aerodynamic package. That will be good for us to come back in those circuits."
Alonso indicated that it is not just the engine that is lacking and said "OK, it's everything, I think. OK, our engine is very old. We need more power obviously, but also we need to work on the chassis because it's very important in some races like Canada or like Nurburgring."
He was happy for the time being with Minardi and his team-mate Tarso Marques and said "For the first year in Formula One, I think it is good to start with Minardi and to have Tarso with some experience and some experience with the engineers. For me this year will be good."

Alain Prost has indicated that they are discussing their contract with Ferrari and said "First of all we have a contract, obviously a contract can be discussed and we are talking very closely for next year and the year after - especially for next year obviously. Ferrari is helping us a lot not only technically on the human side and we are very close and it's very easy to talk with them about how we might have a better deal possibly."
Prost was pleased with the 2 points finishes they've had so far this season and said "We are eighth in the world championship and the money we receive the year after is in consideration of where we are in the world championship so you never know but we are more or less secure to finish in the first ten. We know it's tough on the budget for this year but we already have a big part of the budget for next year in place and the situation is getting better and better. At the end of the day what is important is to get a competitive car and you are able to make the points because of reliability and we are not looking bad."
Prost indicated that they will not be working heavily on this year's car as they want to concentrate on next year's and said "We have a few things to come again. We are not going to work too much on a big part of the car because it's too late and we're having to spend the money we have on next year's car also but there's still a lot of things to be improved in terms of performance until the end of the year."
Alain Prost is convinced that Michael Schumacher will break his record number of wins and said "My feeling is it can happen in two races, or three or four. It's going to happen so I have no feeling except to have to answer your kind of questions almost every race! The feeling's also very positive in a way, he deserves to have this kind of record - I knew he was very much motivated for this kind of record, which is understandable. And there's nothing to say - you cannot win more than 50 races if you're not good, and he is the best at the moment, one of the best of all time and he deserves to have this record."

29-Jun: What the teams and drivers said following Friday practice at Magny Cours ... Report

29-Jun: French Grand Prix - 2nd Friday Practice: David Coulthard sets the fastest time of the session ahead of Eddie Irvine and Jacques Villeneuve. Mika Hakkinen, Ralf Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya make the top 6 ... Timed Results ... Full Report ... Notes

29-Jun: French Grand Prix - 1st Friday Practice: Mika Hakkinen sets the fastest time of the session ahead of Michael Schumacher and David Coulthard. Rubens Barrichello, Ralf Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya make the top 6 ... Timed Results ... Full Report ... Notes

28-Jun: At the Thursday press conference for the French Grand Prix, Jean Todt has described how much he enjoys working at Ferrari despite being 8 years in the job and said "Of course it's different to when I arrived eight years ago. Now I lead a dream team of very good people, we are all very happy together. The team is strong, the spirit is strong, Ferrari is a great company and still has a passion for motor racing, so I may not be very young any more but still able to do and be willing to do the job."
As for what happens beyond 2004, Todt said "2004 is nearly two and a half years in front of us. It is decided in my head that somebody will take over my position after 2004. That's one of the reasons why we are strong, because we are not worried about somebody taking over your position. I hope that, together with my group, I will be able to identify the good people for Ferrari to succeed after 2004, but bearing in mind that the first appointment is 2001. We need to do well. We are doing quite well, but things can change very quickly. We have eight races in front of us, so we must be focused on the present time and then speak about the next year and the new car."
Todt also commented on their supply of customer engines for next year and said  "You believe rightly that we will go forward with the Sauber team and we are delighted about the collaboration we have achieved and we are very proud of Peter's team to be fourth in the championship. Concerning Prost, we are discussing with Prost the engine for next year."

Pierre Dupasquier was surprised at the comments that the Michelin tyres don't perform well in cold weather and said "I don't understand why. Even when I hear that, I ask, do you have an example of a cold race where Michelin isn't good and they answer No, that's it. We have done a very poor performance in the cold, rainy time at Imola on Saturday morning, very poor, but that was rain, cold rain, not only cold. Let's find a situation with cold weather to find out. Very frankly speaking, I can't understand this, I can't answer."

Enrique Scalabroni has indicated that while they will not be supplying the Arrows team, AsiaTech have yet to decide which team to supply next year if any and said "We made an announcement that we will change direction. At the moment we are analysing what direction we will go and shortly we will announce that. You can count the number of teams with the fingers of your hand, not too many, and the names are there and we need to see which is the best operation to do, what we have at the moment and what the teams have. John Gano will not be present at this race because he is flying tonight to Asia to talk with the main people in the group and with them, we need to explain exactly the situation and it is up to them to take the decision. It is not a technical decision, it is not my business. It is a matter of the future development of the company that we enter with and with the teams that we are working."

Michael Schumacher has indicated that his brother Ralf was more upset about the 10 second stop-go penalty than with Michael's aggressive start and said "I think the particularly reason - and Ralf has expressed this as well, although people don't like to listen because it doesn't suit their story - is that Ralf was quite upset about the 10 second stop and go penalty because he felt that this decision was a very hard one and I can only agree for what had happened to get what he did is a very hard decision. But then, on the other hand, the rule is there and we all ought to respect that sometimes it's hard to accept and sometimes it's the other way around. That is the main reason - and I said this after Sunday as well - that he wasn't too happy about what I did at the start, I can well imagine, I've been very unhappy with people who did the same to me and when you're behind, you're always the person who is unhappy. In front, you feel totally OK. That's the way it is. We don't have a particular problem with this. We talk about things and perhaps they're pretty clear. We race and we race for different companies and we have to maximise the opportunities and we have to use the rules in whatever way they allow us to until a certain point, obviously, and he's quite happy with that."
Michael also commented on the Williams superiority on high speed tracks and said "The fact is that we have seen more top speed for Williams than for anyone else so that means that in general it seems to favour whenever top speed is important these characteristic circuits more than us. But then we will find out when we come to real high speed circuits. We haven't been to one yet - Canada is sort of - but Monza or Hockenheim will tell us more what is the high speed situation. I think that if we hadn't had trouble in Canada we could have won that race."
He also indicated that he will be happy to see his brother beating him for the title next year and said "Actually, I will be very delighted. As you know, I have achieved quite a lot and I will be very happy to see my brother doing very well."

Jarno Trulli has indicated that in his 5 year career in Formula 1 he had never had a competitive and reliable car so far and said "It's always disappointing when you can't finish races, especially when you are in the points, but that is racing. You have to keep working, with the team, to try to develop and push more and more. Try to get reliability, which is what we need at the moment. It's difficult, but I have to say that I'm almost used to that, because in my five years in Formula One I never had a really competitive and reliable car, so I always try to do my best in ever race, I just forget what happened before and every weekend hope that it's going to be alright. That's why I look so strong at every race, because I have had bad luck before."
As for his future with Jordan, he said "At the moment my contract is due to run out at the end of the season. I will take the decision probably in one month and obviously I don't know yet what I will do."

28-Jun: Michael Schumacher made 9 Formula 1 appearances at the Magny Cours track; of those 9, he won 4 while retired from 3 with 2 finishing in the points. He has the most number of wins at the Magny Cours track while running second overall in the all time winners for the French Grand Prix behind Alain Prost who won it 6 times between 1981 and 1993. He shares this second place with Juan Manuel Fangio and Nigel Mansell. Surprisingly, Ayrton Senna never won the French Grand Prix.
Of the current drivers only David Coulthard and Heinz Harald Frentzen have won here with a win each.

Michael Schumacher has 3 pole positions so far, that is 2 behind Juan Manuel Fangio who has 5. Ayrton Senna had just 1 pole position at the French GP and that was in in 1986 in a Lotus 98T. Of the current drivers, Mika Hakkinen and Rubens Barrichello had one pole position each.

Ferrari have won 11 times at the French GP (twice at Magny Cours) ahead of Lotus and Williams with 7 wins each. McLaren have won the event 5 times.

28-Jun: "The Michelin factor" is the title of the 20th issue from the Diagnosis and Prognosis Series for the 2001 season. In this issue, the Heretic looks at the aftermath of the European Grand Prix and the upcoming French Grand Prix - Issue 20

27-Jun: "Should engine capacity be reduced to 2.5 litres ?" Topic of the week - Have Your Say

27-Jun: David Coulthard has admitted that McLaren is behind Ferrari and Williams following the European Grand Prix but he is determined to do what he can to try and reduce the gap between himself and Michael Schumacher in the championship however he is wary if the Williams team and said "The performance at the Nurburgring doesn't mean that we're all at sea going to Magny-Cours because it's a different track, different tyre, which can change the situation significantly. Michelin at the test (at Magny-Cours last month) were very strong so we can expect them to be very fast on that track, and Ferrari have still got a slight edge on us. We'll do what we can."

The Benetton team have been struggling this season ever since they launched the B201, however they have been talking about a new engine package to be introduced this weekend that will give them a big jump in power. Giancarlo Fisichella is very confident of the improvements they will get with this new package and said "For the next race it's going to be a big step, a big jump in power, so I am very confident."
Despite the dismal performance of the Benetton this year, Fisichella is aiming high for next year and is expecting to win races and said "I am confident for next year. If I don't win a race next year I'll be very disappointed."

26-Jun: Tom Walkinshaw has indicated that his Orange Arrows team will not be using the AsiaTech engines next year and that they are looking at three different engine options for 2002 and said "We have three engine options for 2002. AsiaTech was informed this morning to plan without us for next year. We will announce our engine partner for the 2002 season in the very near future."
One of those deals is speculated to be a Ford Cosworth engine supply where Arrows gets the same engine as the Jaguar team.

Alain Prost has indicated that contrary to the rumours going around in the F1 circles, his Prost team were very happy with the Ferrari engines they are currently using and he expects to continue with them for next year. He did however indicate that their could be a possibility of a switch and said "Formula 1 has plenty of rumours, we have a deal with Ferrari, we are very happy with Ferrari, they are doing a good job for us so there is no point to change. We will see if there is something different in the next two weeks but at the moment we don't plan to change. I will do a statement very quickly to tell what is happening."

26-Jun: "Beware of Williams!" The French Grand Prix Preview is now available ... Race Preview

French Formula 1 Grand Prix Schedule:

Session Time (Local / GMT) - Current local time
Friday Practice Session 1
Friday Practice Session 2
Saturday Practice Session 1
Saturday Practice Session 2
Qualifying Session
Warm-up Session
11 AM Nevers Time / 9 AM GMT
1 PM Nevers Time / 11 AM GMT
9 AM Nevers Time / 7 AM GMT
10:15 AM Nevers Time / 8:15 AM GMT 
1 PM Nevers Time / 11 AM GMT
9:30 AM Nevers Time / 7:30 AM GMT 
2 PM Nevers Time / 12 PM GMT
Go to the French GP Page

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