Michelin ready for rain at Silverstone

French tyre manufacturer Michelin will be hoping to provide a better showing than it did last year at the British Grand Prix, if as current weather forecasts are predicting, it rains at Silverstone on Sunday

Michelin ready for rain at Silverstone

During 2002 Michelin's intermediates were no match for those from Japanese rival Bridgestone, and at Silverstone last year when the rain did come down, those running on the French rubber were left for dead. So far this year there has not been a wet race, but according to Michelin's F1 project manager Pascal Vasselon, should it rain on Sunday he is confident they can compete.

"Last year our intermediate tyre had a working 'window' which had two strong points and one weak point," said Michelin F1 project manager Pascal Vasselon. "It was able to work well at the start in the rain and was equally good at the end in the dry. However, it was less effective when the track was damp. We have since corrected that characteristic."

Michelin motorsport director Pierre Dupasquier is equally keen to put 2002 out to grass and is concentrating on 2003: "No question, our tyres have been performing remarkably well - but that won't make us complacent because we know how much has still to be done," he said. "We must keep working hard to push forward our product development and generate an even more effective relationship between our tyres and the cars to which they are fitted."

Consecutive one-twos from Williams and five out of the top six places in France going to Michelin have highlighted the work that rival Bridgestone has to do. However, defiant noises from the Ferrari camp, and an intense tyre testing programme in Barcelona last week have done little to alter Michelin's current state of optimism.

"The BMW WilliamsF1 Team has earned everybody's respect by hitting such a rich vein of form, not least because we all know how hard it is to set such high standards in F1 without making any mistakes," said Dupasquier.

"And it wasn't only the performance of Williams that put us in such good heart after the previous race at Magny-Cours. McLaren was unlucky not to take third and fourth places and both Renaults were well placed when forced to retire."

One question mark remains, however, the second half of the season will require the employment of harder compounds than in many of the earlier races. Whether this will swing the pendulum in favour of the French or the Japanese manufacturer remains to be seen.

"Last week we went to Barcelona to conduct an extensive series of tests that helped us finalise our options for Silverstone," said Vasselon. "Throughout most of the first half of the season we have used tyres from the softer end of our range, but we are just starting to focus on harder compounds for the tracks that lie ahead. We will have three tyres at Silverstone and all are a product of the work we did during our most recent tests."

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