Friday April 20th, 2001
Ferrari's world champion Michael Schumacher says he was surprised by the success of the Williams team and tyre supplier Michelin at last weekend's San Marino Grand Prix.
"I honestly did not think the Williams could be so strong so soon," the German, was quoted as saying in Friday's Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper after a test session at Mugello.
"Not so much for the BMW (engine) but for the tyres, I thought Bridgestone would be able to keep their advantage for longer. Clearly Michelin has done a great job and this has made the Williams-BMW very competitive."
Ralf's win was the first by a team using Michelin tyres since the French manufacturer returned to Formula One this season after a 17-year absence. Ferrari use Bridgestone. For the previous two seasons, Japan's Bridgestone enjoyed a monopoly in the sport.
Bridgestone Motorsport manager Hisao Suganuma said after Imola that the company would be studying the data carefully and seeking to make further improvements in time for the next race in Spain.
The Gazzetta reported that Bridgestone had tested at Silverstone this week with bigger front tyres than previously used and softer compounds. A company spokeswoman confirmed that softer compounds had been tested but said they were not for Barcelona next week but for races later in the season.
She could not confirm whether or not the front tyres were bigger. The regulations allow 50 millimeters room for manoeuvre between the maximum and minimum widths.