MONZA TRAFFIC DEPRIVES BRIDGESTONE OF POSSIBLE 14TH CONSECUTIVE POLE POSITION With dull conditions and periods of heavy rain throughout practice, Monza has been less welcoming than usual. Today's qualifying session opened with the track ...
MONZA TRAFFIC DEPRIVES BRIDGESTONE OF POSSIBLE 14TH CONSECUTIVE POLE POSITION
With dull conditions and periods of heavy rain throughout practice, Monza has been less welcoming than usual. Today's qualifying session opened with the track surface still wet, forcing teams to wait more than 30 minutes before sending out their drivers. The final minutes saw a thrilling scramble as drivers fought for the space required to exploit their dry weather tyres. Although both Mika Hakkinen and David Coulthard were on track at the vital moment, they lost time behind slower cars and had to be content with starting positions on the second row. Pole position went to the Ferrari of Michael Schumacher, who was joined on the front row by the Williams of Jacques Villeneuve. It was the best qualifying performance of the season for each, finally ending Bridgestone's monopoly on pole position dating back to the Australian GP in March.
Hirohide Hamashima, Technical Director, Bridgestone Motorsport: "In the rain this morning when we tested two types of wet tyre - one soft, one hard - we discovered from the partial times that our tyre had an advantage through sector 3. However, we were also losing time through sector 1, which made it necessary to discuss possible solutions with our teams, in case it rains again tomorrow. When the track at last dried out this afternoon we were confident about being on pole yet again, but unfortunately there was a lot of traffic. I wish to congratulate Michael Schumacher on finally beating our string of 13 poles. Tomorrow's race should be a different story because, with such long straights, passing is not as difficult here as it can be at other circuits. Since we know that our performance is better than the qualifying results suggest, we look forward to being competitive in the race, with a good chance of winning."
David Coulthard, Driver, West McLaren Mercedes (4th place- 1:25.987): "Today was immensely frustrating. On my last lap I was trying to drop back from an Arrows, but at the same time I had both Damon Hill and Johnny Herbert close behind. I was trying not to ruin their laps, but in those circumstances things can get quite aggressive with everyone looking for some clear space. Unfortunately the Arrows driver made a mistake just as I was catching him at the first Lesmo and he got sideways. I understand why someone doesn't want to let you through when he's on a qualifying lap, but that was the last opportunity. I probably screwed up the chances for both Damon and Johnny, too, but that is inevitable under conditions like this. For the race I am sure we can be quick. It may take a while, but I believe we can work our way through to the front."
Steve Hallam, Chief engineer, West McLaren Mercedes: "In the final few minutes of qualifying, the track was rapidly getting faster as the surface dried out. In such circumstances it is inevitable that everyone will be out and that there will be a traffic problem - something which affected both our drivers. It is tough, but we have to accept it. Nevertheless as we have done so much testing at this track, we know we can be competitive here. Tomorrow it will be a question of realizing our potential."
TEMPERATURES AIR TRACK WEATHER Morning 18-16 20-19 heavy rain Afternoon 21-24 30-36 damp - then drying