Takuma Sato (B*A*R-Honda/Michelin) has become the first Japanese driver ever to qualify on the front row of the grid for a world championship Formula One race with a stirring 1m 28.986s lap at the NÃ¼rburgring. The 27-year-old also set the fastest...
Takuma Sato (B*A*R-Honda/Michelin) has become the first Japanese driver ever to qualify on the front row of the grid for a world championship Formula One race with a stirring 1m 28.986s lap at the Nürburgring. The 27-year-old also set the fastest lap of the weekend so far, a 1m 27.691s during pre-qualifying. The breadth of the Michelin challenge was illustrated once again with all six partner teams obtaining places in the top 12 on the grid for the Grand Prix of Europe.
Sato lines up next to Michaël Schumacher (Ferrari) and ahead of Monaco GP winner Jarno Trulli (Renault, third). Follow by eight Michelin drivers in the top 12: Kimi Räikkönen (Team McLaren Mercedes, fourth), Jenson Button (B*A*R-Honda, fifth), Fernando Alonso (Renault, sixth), Juan Pablo Montoya (BMW WilliamsF1 Team, eighth), Ralf Schumacher (BMW WilliamsF1 Team, ninth), Olivier Panis (Toyota, 10th), Cristiano da Matta (Toyota, 11th) and Mark Webber (Jaguar, 12th). Mark will actually start from 14th position following a one second penalty.
Pre-qualifying had to be red-flagged after David Coulthard (Team McLaren Mercedes/Michelin) stopped on the circuit with a technical problem just after setting the fourth fastest time. The Scot was consequently unable to take part in the decisive second session.
Pierre Dupasquier, Michelin Motorsport Director:
"The track has evolved a great deal and conditions are much more consistent than they were during yesterday's free practice. I anticipate a very interesting race tomorrow because several of our partner teams are in a strong position and we don't yet know what strategy our rivals have chosen. Bear in mind that the fuel penalty is quite significant at the Nürburgring -- about 0.35s per lap for every extra 10kg. I would also like to congratulate Takuma on his first front-row start. His performance doesn't surprise me at all, because he has worked really well with our engineers ever since he first started running on Michelins last winter."
Pascal Vasselon, Michelin F1 Programme Manager:
"So far everything is running according to plan. The three dry-weather compounds we brought to this event have all been well suited to the conditions. They have been fast and consistent, irrespective of any temperature fluctuations, and all will be used in tomorrow's race."