First pole position of the season for Montoya BMW-Williams star Juan Pablo Montoya qualified fastest for the third round of the FIA Formula One World Championship in Brazil. The Colombian gave Michelin its first pole position of the season after...
First pole position of the season for Montoya
BMW-Williams star Juan Pablo Montoya qualified fastest for the third round of the FIA Formula One World Championship in Brazil. The Colombian gave Michelin its first pole position of the season after getting the better of a tight battle with the Schumacher brothers -- team-mate Ralf and defending world champion Michael. Montoya lapped in 1m 13.114s, just 0.127s ahead of Michael and 0.214s clear of Ralf. Michael Schumacher is racing Ferrari's new F2002 chassis for the first time this weekend, but a small mistake on his final qualifying run denied him any chance of knocking Montoya off top spot. "Starting from pole is a great thing," Montoya said, "but we'll see what tomorrow brings. Ferrari has been saving tyres and I guess that means they'll opt for a two-stop strategy tomorrow."
In searing conditions, with track temperatures constantly more than 40 degrees, Michelin had a satisfying day with six of its cars among the top seven. McLaren-Mercedes drivers David Coulthard and Kimi Raikkonen will line up fourth and fifth. The Finn set his best lap right at the end of the session after earlier technical problems had forced him to abandon his first run and, briefly, to use the team's spare chassis. Renault drivers Jarno Trulli and Jenson Button have maintained the improved form they showed in Malaysia and qualified sixth and seventh. Trulli was another driver who aborted his first run after he made a mistake and locked a wheel.
Mika Salo (Panasonic Toyota Racing, 10th) was best of the rest of the Michelin runners, ahead of Pedro de la Rosa (Jaguar Racing, 11th), Eddie Irvine (Jaguar Racing, 13th), Allan McNish (Panasonic Toyota Racing, 16th), Mark Webber (KL Minardi Asiatech, 20th) and Alex Yoong (KL Minardi Asiatech, 22nd).
Local favourite Rubens Barrichello starts ninth in the second Ferrari. He was deprived of his fastest qualifying time for having jumped a pit lane red light earlier in the weekend, but the penalty has not cost him any places on the grid. Japanese driver Takuma Sato (Jordan-Honda) was similarly punished for the same offence. He lines up 19th.
Pierre Dupasquier (Motorsport Director)
You said yesterday that you were optimistic about your prospects here. Juan Pablo Montoya has just taken pole position, you have six cars in the top seven and seven in the top 10. How do you feel?
"Very satisfied, because this confirms what we saw yesterday: we are in good shape at Interlagos this weekend. It might be our first pole position of the year, but I know it won't be our last. Michael Schumacher and Ferrari are very hard to beat, but we are capable of taking the fight to them."
Theoretically, what is the best race tactic at Interlagos: one stop or two?
"If you look at a pure data simulation, take into account lap times, how much you lose by coming into the pits, refuelling time and so on, a one-stop race is faster. But you have to take into account the fact that some cars don't handle so well on a heavier fuel load, so I'm sure we will see some people stopping twice."
Track temperatures are high again -- more than 40 degrees. Any worries about how your tyres will hold up for partner teams who choose to stop just once?
"None at all. We have seen nothing so far this weekend to make us worry about wear rate."
Will the two tyre compounds you have brought here both be in use tomorrow?
"All I can say is that both tyre compounds have performed well so far and it's difficult to make a choice here."
Weather forecast ?
"The weather forecast says that conditions should stay the same tomorrow as they have been for the rest of the weekend -- hot and dry."