MARCH 5, 2002
First round of tire war to Bridgestone
MICHELIN dominated the final standings in Melbourne, capturing every points paying position other than one. Unfortunately for Michelin, the one spot they failed to capture on the leader board was the top spot. Michael Schumacher was the only Bridgestone runner to score points down under, probably because he was the only one to finish. Many of the Bridgestone shod drivers, including polesitter Rubens Barrichello and the two Saubers, were collected in the first turn accident.
It is clear that the Bridgestones were better than the Michelins in the cold Melbourne conditions. David Coulthard admitted that he and the rest of the Bridgestone runners struggled, and Juan Pablo Montoya complained that he had no answer for Michael Schumacher when the German passed him on lap 17 because his tires were not nearly as good. The French tire manufacturer has vowed to improve its rubber for the next race in Malaysia, however, where they feel warmer temperatures will be to their advantage.
Following the race, Michelin's competition director, Pierre Dupasquier, said, "We must do better, much better. We no longer have the excuse of not knowing the circuits and we are working with teams whose abilities are well established. The challenge is to prove that Michelin can deliver the results everyone expects in the wake of last season's successes. It was a wild result in Australia but we collected good information. We have new tires ready for the next race in Malaysia, where it could be 50 degrees and difficult for the tires."
Michelin will test their new rubber at Silverstone over the next two weeks, but it is doubtful that the temperatures in Britain will approach what the teams will see in Malaysia.
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