Formula 1 News - September 2005
28 September: MICHELIN TAKES WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP DOUBLE
Sunday September 25, 2005 will go down in history as the day Michelin scored a unique double-World Championship, winning the Formula One* and MotoGP* titles on different parts of the planet. Yamaha-Michelin’s Valentino Rossi captured his fifth consecutive premier-class title in Malaysia, with four races still remaining. Some 12 hours later, Fernando Alonso (Renault- Michelin) made history as the youngest winner of the FIA Formula One Drivers’World Championship in the Brazilian Grand Prix.
Michelin has dominated both series this year, winning 16 out of 17 times so far in F1 and taking 11 wins from 13 races in the MotoGP World Championship. The company is also assured of the F1 Constructors’ crown, as only Michelin-partners McLaren and Renault are still fighting for the coveted title. Michelin also leads the battle in the World Rally Championship, which this weekend may well see Sébastien Loeb (Citroën) claim his second consecutive Drivers’ title in the Rally of Japan. Should Loeb be crowned in Japan, it would give Michelin its 37th WRC title – by far a record. The World’s leading tyre manufacturer also completed an amazing eighth successive win on the famous Le Mans 24 Hours race in June.
In Formula One, Alonso finished third behind McLaren-Michelin duo Juan-Pablo Montoya and Kimi Räikkönen – Michelin’s tenth clean-sweep of the podium this year – to beat previous youngest record-holder Emerson Fittipaldi by more than a year. Alonso became the fourth driver to clinch the F1 title on Michelin tyres, but the first to have done so since the company returned to grand prix racing in 2001. Commenting on Michelin’s contribution to his protégé’s World title, Patrick Faure, president of Renault F1 Team said: “This title is a victory for Fernando Alonso and Renault, but it is just as much so for all of our technical partners – and Michelin is naturally foremost among them. The company has supported us every inch of the way and we have worked extremely well together. It has been a perfect season for Michelin and I’d like to extend my compliments to its whole team.”
On two wheels, the phenomenon called Rossi proved once again how brilliant he is: having scored an amazing nine wins from the first eleven races of the season, he wrapped up the title in Malaysia with his 77th podium finish from 93 top-class starts – all scored on Michelin tyres. His title was Michelin’s 25th in 30 years in the premier class of motorcycling (500cc and MotoGP combined), a glorious era that began with the success of the late, great Barry Sheene (Suzuki -Michelin) in 1976. This is also the company’s 14th consecutive title win, a run of domination that began with Wayne Rainey (Yamaha-Michelin) in 1992. Michelin has won a record total of 334 500cc/MotoGP races.
Rossi too was quick to praise the French company’s products – although he still wants more from them! He said “As always Michelin make a very good work. This year we work especially hard on traction because with more power it’s important that you have enough traction to use the extra power. This is the big effort, the big improvement, so sometimes it’s like magic – you give a lot of gas but the tyre doesn’t spin! Last year the bikes made big steps forward, so the rear tyre would spin at the end of races because the stress was too much, but this year it’s sometimes possible to make the fastest lap on the last lap, which means the tyres work incredible! Also we have a bit more sidegrip, but sidegrip was the big work last year. For next year we need to improve step by step, like always: more edgegrip, more traction and an even better front!”
Commenting on the double title of the weekend, Michelin Chairman and CEO, Edouard Michelin said: “It has been an amazing weekend for Michelin, and one that is only possible because of the hard work of so many people in our Company. It exemplifies our sporting values and our dedication to the team spirit of racing and fair competition. I am very proud and want to thank them all. I also want to congratulate both Fernando Alonso and Valentino Rossi on their World Championships. They are fantastic racers and great ambassadors for their sports.”
Despite the double success for Michelin, the company will not be resting on its laurels: the World Rally Championship teams head to Japan where Michelin’s partner Citroën will be hoping to extend its lead in the Manufacturers’ championship, while its driver, Sébastien Loeb will try to settle the Drivers’ title. Rossi will once again do battle in the MotoGP World Championship, this time in Qatar; and Formula One heads to Asia next week for the remaining two races in Japan and China where the Constructors’ title will finally be decided. Michelin will continue to work in the hope of bringing that extra element of performance to all its partners, in all forms of motorsport.
* Subject to the official publication of the results by the FIA/FIM.
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