Michelin men decide what to wear

Michelin is going through a bit of a purple patch at the moment. A strong showing from its partner teams in Germany, followed by its 'home' race in France - the outlook could hardly be better. But the company is wary of talking up its chances at Magny-Cours as no defeat is quite as painful as one at home, and the Ferrari/Bridgestone combination has proven its winning form here

Michelin men decide what to wear

"Reflecting on the past few races it certainly appears as though we have provided our partners with extremely competitive tyres and they are making good use of them," said Michelin motorsport director Pierre Dupasquier. "For us, though, the French Grand Prix is a race just like any other. We don't have a great deal of track experience, either, because we don't do any private testing here."

But as far as the drivers who use the French rubber are concerned, no opportunity is too small to miss if they can wage a little psychological war on the opposition. "Our tyres should be really competitive in Magny-Cours," said Williams' Juan Pablo Montoya.

"As we have seen, especially in the last few races, Michelin has gained the upper hand in the tyre war and on their home ground they will aim to perform at the top even if they might be a bit more under pressure. With their help I hope I'll be able to repeat the pole position I set here in 2002, and take advantage of it, unlike last year when I finished fourth."

The nature of the track, as always, presents the teams with some difficult compromises. Michelin's F1 project manager Pascal Vasselon explains: "Magny-Cours is moderately abrasive and we bring tyres from the medium sector of our range," he said.

"Our choice is dictated by the ultra-high loads generated through Estoril corner, without which we could run much softer tyres. We have evaluated a range of possibilities for Magny-Cours and finally hit upon four dry-weather options that will be available to our partners."

Current weather forecasts have it warm and dry on Saturday and Sunday, with a 50 percent chance of rain on Friday.

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