Alonso praises 'incredible' tyres

Formula 1's new tyre regulations will not pose a problem for Michelin, reckons Renault driver Fernando Alonso

Alonso praises 'incredible' tyres

Tyres must now last for the entire duration of a Grand Prix as teams are no longer permitted to change rubber during refuelling stops. Alonso had his first taste of the latest Michelins at Catalunya this week and was impressed with their "incredible" consistency.

"With this year's tyres in the first ten laps there's a progressive degradation, nothing sudden," he said. "But then they remain with the same level of grip and don't deteriorate anymore. It's really incredible."

Many have suggested that Michelin's performance in 2005 will be the key factor in determining whether Ferrari's dominance of F1 continues. The reigning champions are one of only three teams remaining with Bridgestone tyres, and with all their realistic challengers on Michelins Ferrari could struggle if the French tyre company proves to have a decisive advantage. This was briefly the case in mid-2003, but Bridgestone came back strongly in 2004 and won 15 races.

The latest Renault R25 chassis will make its testing debut next week, although the 2004 car will continue to be used for the team's tyre testing programme. The new car will be aesthetically similar to last season's machine, according to Alonso.

"The looks are not completely different, but the engine is a bit better and more powerful," he said.

"For the driver, there are not many changes, even the buttons in the steering wheel are the same. So it will be a continuity process for us. We hope to have a good car, but until we get to Australia there's no way to know where we stand, because you can't read much into winter testing

"Last year we did very well in the winter, but once we got to hot tracks the car was not that quick anymore. So, we'll have to see how it goes."

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