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Michelin playing down chances for 2001

MICHELIN's Competition Director Pierre Dupasquier has been carefully playing down expectations that the French tire company could win Formula 1 races in 2001.

"We can only assimilate a certain amount of knowledge before the first race and we face some very serious and experienced competition," he said. "There remains a huge hill to climb and I don't expect to see us winning or taking pole before 2003."

The comments are being interpreted in F1 circles as an attempt to avoid expectations which are too high but there is no doubt that Michelin's ambition is to be successful in the course of its first season. The company has completed 6200 miles of testing in the course of the 2000 season and has recently begun testing with all the teams it will be supplying. Having signed up Williams, Jaguar, Benetton, Prost and Toyota (and almost certainly Minardi as well) the French firm is well-positioned to challenge for wins this year. Bridgestone failed to win a race in its debut season in F1 but that was more because of the poor reliability of its chosen teams than the tire performance. There were several occasions on which Bridgestone might have won races but there were car failures.

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