Michelin satisfied with debut

DESPITE losing the first tire battle to their rivals Bridgestone, the Michelin company have expressed delight with their first performance for 16 years.

French manufacturers Michelin returned to Formula One this season and despite seeing Bridgestone-shod teams occupy the top-seven places in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix they are optimistic about the remainder of the season.

"Our return has been about as good as we could have expected," said the company's Motorsport Director Pierre Dupasquier.

He then added: "Obviously, I'm not talking about the final result. We leave with not as many of our cars at the finish as we would have liked."

The French tire manufacturer managed just two top-ten places in the race and one in qualifying, but Dupasquier singled out performances that show Michelin are in good shape for the season ahead.

"We are very satisfied with the qualifying performance," he explained. "We work on the principle that if one of our cars can put in a good time, this must prove that our tires are capable of doing it.

"Ralf Schumacher's time at less than 0.5 of a second from [Rubens] Barrichello shows that he is capable of fighting for a front row start.

"And Juan Pablo Montoya lapped in 1'29"6, the fourth fastest lap time and that on his 40th lap on those tires, so we seem to be quite constant as well! Now we'll see what happens in Malaysia."

Luciano Burti was the best Michelin-shod finisher as he passed the checkered flag eighth in his Jaguar.

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