World championship leaders David Coulthard (McLaren-Mercedes) and Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) will line up on the front row of the grid for the most prestigious race of the Formula 1 season. Scot Coulthard nicked pole position from Schumacher on...
World championship leaders David Coulthard (McLaren-Mercedes) and Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) will line up on the front row of the grid for the most prestigious race of the Formula 1 season. Scot Coulthard nicked pole position from Schumacher on his fourth and final qualifying lap. His margin of superiority was 0.201s. Schumacher's last run was ruined when he ran wide at Portier and hit the barrier. Their respective team-mates Mika Hakkinen and Rubens Barrichello qualified third and fourth and less than half a second covered the fastest four drivers.
Ralf Schumacher (BMW WilliamsF1 Team - Michelin) qualified fifth as the fastest of four Michelin drivers in the top 10. The German was poised to improve his time at the end of the session, but he was forced to abort the lap because a slower car delayed him just as he was exiting Rascasse, the final corner before the pit straight. His team-mate Juan Pablo Montoya kissed the barriers early in the session, but the incident barely delayed him and he recovered to qualify seventh.
Eddie Irvine (Jaguar - Michelin) split the two Williams drivers at a track where he has traditionally excelled. It was at this race last season that he scored Jaguar's first world championship points by finishing fourth. Pedro de la Rosa was 14th fastest in the second car his best qualifying performance since he joined the team at last month's Spanish Grand Prix.The Michelin-equipped Benetton Renault Sport team had its best qualifying result of the season so far. Giancarlo Fisichella, who like Irvine has always shone on the streets of the principality, qualified 10th and team-mate Jenson Button was 17th.
Jean Alesi (Prost-Acer - Michelin) was another driver to post his highest grid position of the season. The Frenchman lines up 11th, but his team-mate Luciano Burti is only 21st after a difficult day. During the morning's final free practice session the Brazilian crashed heavily at Ste Devote corner after suffering a brake problem. Spanish teenager Fernando Alonso (European Minardi - Michelin) qualified 18th for the fourth consecutive race and once again left several more fancied runners in his wake. Tarso Marques was 22nd in the Anglo-Italian team's second entry.
Edouard Michelin, Chairman and CEO:
"I take pleasure in the fact that we are nearer the top end of the possible scenarios we envisaged in 2001, with some particularly exceptional performances since the start of the season. Our technical credibility is recognised and appreciated by our partners. Frank Williams, who visited the Michelin factory last week, has clearly said this. What's more, I get the feeling there is a certain amount of interest from teams not currently running Michelin regarding the technology we have brought to Formula One.
Pierre Dupasquier (Motorsport Director )
"Disappointing because Ralf Schumacher was going particularly well on his last run and should have been able to gain a couple of places had he not been blocked by a slower car, but at the same time delighted that some of our other partners, Jaguar, Benetton and Prost put in excellent performances."
"It was as we expected, that is less abrasive than earlier on in the event. It was very quick right up to the end of qualifying."
Were your choices suitable for this track?
"Yes. We have a tyre that seems to be well suited, but which could be a little too hard if the track improves further. That said, we have noticed that some of the cars fitted with our competitor's tyres have fronts that are almost slick after fifteen laps or so. I can't wait to see what state these tyres will be in after 50 laps tomorrow. Everything depends on how the track evolves.
Tomorrow's race strategy?
"More than likely a one-stop strategy. But some very interesting things are bound to happen between the 20th and 50th laps..."