Testing ace tips Michelin for 2001 win

Michelin can win a race on its return to Formula 1 competition this year, according to Le Mans 24 Hours winner Tom Kristensen, who has developed its new rubber behind closed doors this year

Testing ace tips Michelin for 2001 win

But the 33-year-old Dane has warned that the French tyre company's teams - which include BMW Williams, the Renault-owned Benetton squad and Jaguar - could struggle at some venues where circuit knowledge and data are at a premium.

"I think they will win races, but I think they will also have to struggle on some circuits," he said. "It has only been possible for Michelin to test on two or three of the Grand Prix tracks. With the tyre technology being so great at the moment - and remember Bridgestone is a fantastic company as well - it's going to be difficult to be exactly 100% with a certain tyre, given specific track temperatures, weather conditions and so on. You also have to take into account how the new chassis will adapt to the tyres."

Kristensen completed almost 10,000km in Williams and Stewart chassis, running on a variety of 2001 Michelin compounds before the testing ban came into effect this month.

"You have to say that the teams who are the most competitive this year are running with Bridgestone next year," he said. "Williams and BMW did a fantastic job this year, so I think they are the best bet to challenge Ferrari and McLaren for wins."

Kristensen, who raced for Honda in the British Touring Car Championship this year and also won the Le Mans 24 Hours for Audi, said his F1 tyre testing experience was like nothing he'd ever done before.

"I solely had to focus on the tyres, which was different than normal because, while certainly they're very important, you're normally thinking a lot more about the engine or chassis," he said. "Doing that has given me some major experience and a really good buzz - it's amazing what they [the tyres] can do in terms of lap times and consistency. Normally, over a season, you'd get to choose between three or four different types of tyre which are pretty close. But when you test like we have done, you can see that the philosophy of tyres is like the black gold of motor racing."

Despite his unique experience on Michelin rubber, Kristensen realises he is unlikely to get the chance to put it to use in a racing situation next year.

"Now I have all this experience it would be nice to carry it on," he added. "Even though I know I'm good enough, I don't see any opportunities at the moment in F1, but who has the miles in F1 like I have this year, especially with a new partner coming in? I have no doubt I can be on top of the game straight away."

For full Tom Kristensen Q&A, click HERE.

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