Michael Schumacher defied those critics who said he would not be the same after his crash, by taking pole position for the Malaysian Grand Prix. Despite missing six Grands Prix, the German ace showed he is still a class above the rest by...
Michael Schumacher defied those critics who said he would not be the same after his crash, by taking pole position for the Malaysian Grand Prix. Despite missing six Grands Prix, the German ace showed he is still a class above the rest by qualifying a full second ahead of second placed Eddie Irvine. The two McLarens of Coulthard and Hakkinen finished third and fourth.
The Sepang circuit, one hour outside Kuala Lumpur, produced an unusual grid, with many so-called 'second drivers' out-qualifying their team mates -- Coulthard ahead of Hakkinen, Herbert ahead of Barrichello for example.
For the Benson and Hedges Jordan team, the session was disappointing, particularly for Heinz-Harald Frentzen who, having taken pole in the last race, had to make do with 14th place after a catalogue of bad luck. His headrest came loose under braking for the first corner and caused him to spin on his first timed lap. He then took the T car and had to abort his second attempt to set a time due to a problem with the front left brake caliper. A new caliper was fitted and, with only two sets of tyres remaining, Frentzen drove three-lap and five-lap stints, setting his fastest time on the final flying lap.
"I am really disappointed to be so low down on the grid, especially when I am used to qualifying in the top two to three rows. My head rest came loose under braking and hit me from behind, causing me to spin. I then took the T car and had to abort my second run because of a brake problem. But the weekend is not over and we hope that we will have more luck in tomorrow's race."
In spite of the overall lack of grip, Hill got the most out of the car and managed to qualify in 9th place.
"Today was tougher than we had expected and I cannot say I am really satisfied to be 9th. Having said that, we could see from our progress this morning that we were not going to be as competitive as we had expected. The lack of grip makes it difficult to really push without spinning off. This track has produced an unusual qualifying performance which is interesting in that it gives us some clues as to where there might be some weaknesses with the car. But unfortunately we have not been able to find the right balance for now."