On April 14 Michelin and its partner teams will contest the fourth round of the 2002 FIA Formula One World Championship and the first in Europe: the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola.

Michelin came away from the previous event in Brazil with several reasons to feel positive. Juan Pablo Montoya (BMW.WilliamsF1 Team) qualified on pole position and six of the seven leading cars on the grid were fitted with Michelin rubber.

At the end of the race Montoya's team-mate Ralf Schumacher finished second, just 0.5 seconds behind his brother Michael's Ferrari.

Other Michelin drivers also performed strongly: David Coulthard (West McLaren-Mercedes) joined the Schumachers on the podium by finishing third, ahead of Jenson Button (Renault F1, 4th), Montoya (5th), Mika Salo (Panasonic Toyota Racing, 6th), Eddie Irvine (Jaguar Racing, 7th) and Pedro de la Rosa (Jaguar Racing, 8th).

Even though Michelin came away from S?o Paolo without a victory, the Clermont-Ferrand engineers and technicians left South America in a positive frame of mind because seven of their cars finished in the top 10 and the only driver capable of beating the clutch of Michelin cars at the head of the field was four-time world champion Michael Schumacher in Ferrari's new F2002 chassis.

Competition director Pierre Dupasquier says: "If you look at Ralf Schumacher's performance in the race, he set his fastest time - a 1m 16.2s - when there were still 27 laps to go. It is clear that he would have been able to go much faster if he hadn't been stuck behind his older brother."

Italy's passionate, motorsport-mad tifosi rule the roost at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, a track that measures 4.933 kilometres (3.065 miles) and generates similar average lap speeds to those in Brazil - about 200 km/h (125 mph).

Although it is quite a quick circuit it features several chicanes and the quality of the surface is not consistent around the whole lap. If it rains, drivers are often caught unawares because on some parts of the track they lose grip when they least expect to.

Does Michelin have any new developments for Imola?Pierre Dupasquier says: "The start of the season has shown clearly that Michelin hasn't been idle at Clermont-Ferrand during the winter months. The compounds and constructions we will use at Imola are markedly different to those we ran in Brazil and incorporate a blend of new ideas and elements of what we have learned in the past. Michelin and its partner teams will have to reacclimatise to using this kind of tyre, but we have time on our side."

In last year's corresponding fixture, Ralf Schumacher led magnificently from start to finish and scored the first Michelin win of the company's F1 comeback season.