Monday February 5th, 2001
Michelin do not expect to make a victorious Formula One comeback this season.
The French tyre manufacturer will be supplying four teams - Williams, Benetton, Jaguar and Prost - but motorsport director Pierre Dupasquier cautioned at the company's Formula One launch on Monday: "It is easy to enter Formula One but the step on to the podium is not so easy. We have set goals to get Michelin to the top of the podium but that won't happen this year.
"All four of our teams want to win. But we will take things step by step. I can guarantee that there will be some surprises but probably not a win."
But he said the company, last in grand prix racing in 1984, was under intense pressure to succeed in the battle against Japanese tyre makers Bridgestone.
Top teams Ferrari and McLaren have stayed with Bridgestone along with along with BAR, Arrows, Jordan and Sauber. Minardi have yet to confirm a tyre supplier.
Michelin chief executive Edouard Michelin said: "The challenge for everyone here is to help close the gap on Ferrari and McLaren and it is quite a challenge.
"In 2001, podium or no podium, we must have proved that we have done a good job. It will be a battle, and it may take two or three years to win the championship, but we have faith it will happen."
Michelin has been testing throughout the winter and believe this will be a great help in closing the gap on Bridgestone.
He added: "Our research in assisting the teams during the winter should help make up for a lack of knowledge of the circuits and grooved tyres.
"The lap times in testing show we are making constant progress and that is very pleasing. Jaguar driver Eddie Irvine has told me: 'You can tell from the minute that a wheel is turned that these tyres are Michelin'."