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FEBRUARY 5, 2001

Michelin not expecting a win in 2001

MICHELIN have said that they do not expect a win in their first season back in Formula One as a tire supplier.

Speaking at the company's official F1 launch in Paris on Monday, Michelin motorsport director Pierre Dupasquier joked that if they do not get a podium finish this season then he could be out of a job.

However, he does realize the seriousness of the joke, and admits the task ahead is a tough one for the French company.

"F1 is essential and we have a clear task," said Dupasquier. "It is easy to enter Formula One but the step onto the podium is not so easy. We have set goals to get Michelin to the top of the podium but that won't happen this year.

"All four of our teams want to win," he continued. "But we will take things step by step. I can guarantee that there will be some surprises but probably not a win."

Two of the teams Michelin will be supplying, Williams and Benetton, finished third and fourth respectively in the championship last season, but although the potential tire war is expected to spring a few surprises, Michelin are not expecting to overhaul the top two this year.

The other two teams Michelin will supply in the 2001 season are Jaguar and Prost.

Edouard Michelin, the company's chief executive said: "The challenge for everyone here is to help close the gap on Ferrari and McLaren and it is quite a challenge.

"In 2001, podium or no podium we must have proved that we have done a good job. It will be a battle, and it may take two or three years to win the championship, but we have faith it will happen."

Michelin have been testing throughout the winter, and Michelin believes this will be a great help in making up the gap to Bridgestone.

He added: "Our research in assisting the teams during the winter should help make up for a lack of knowledge of the circuits and grooved tires.

"The lap times in testing show we are making constant progress and that is very pleasing. Jaguar driver Eddie Irvine has told me 'You can tell from the minute that a wheel is turned that these tires are Michelin'."