Schumacher front row in San Marino GP qualifying

Schumacher front row in San Marino GP qualifying

Michael Schumacher put in a storming lap to claim pole position for tomorrow's San Marino Grand Prix, putting Ferrari on top at its home race. Schumacher took pole from brother Ralf by one hundredth of second, setting the best time of 1:22.327....

Michael Schumacher put in a storming lap to claim pole position for tomorrow's San Marino Grand Prix, putting Ferrari on top at its home race. Schumacher took pole from brother Ralf by one hundredth of second, setting the best time of 1:22.327. The times were very close at the front, pole falling by hundredths as drivers took their turns, and while Michael took front of the grid, there were some excellent performances elsewhere.

Michael Schumacher.
Photo by Brousseau Photo.
Minardi's Justin Wilson was out first, a cautious lap from him with 1:25.826, but team-mate Jos Verstappen got the red flags out immediately afterwards. On a good lap, Verstappen just pushed a bit too hard; wobbly at Piratella, he then spun off at Variante Alta, the same place where Ralf crashed in morning practice.

A quite heavy impact but the Dutchman was unhurt. "I think I was pushing too hard," Verstappen said. "I went on the kerbs too much and lost it." As for having to start from the back of the grid tomorrow, Jos was unconcerned: "That's where we would be anyway!"

"There's new tarmac Variante Alta," added Wilson, after his lap. "It's very slippery. We were slightly quicker on lower fuel yesterday but it wasn't too bad today."

Cristiano da Matta was next up once the session was restarted, the Toyota taking provisional pole by nearly two seconds. Ralph Firman's Jordan locked up badly into turn one then had a very shaky moment at Tamburello which left him a few seconds down on da Matta. Jarno Trulli was the last of the first five, the Renault looking uncomfortable, and he neither could beat da Matta's time.

"Over the weekend I've been having all sorts of problems," said Trulli. "I had to take the T-car because of a mechanical problem on my race car and it wasn't set up for me. I didn't have much confidence in it."

Jaguar's Antonio Pizzonia started the next group, the Brazilian faster in sectors one and three but losing in the middle to go second. Nick Heidfeld, who's had a poor weekend so far, was the first to drop down into the 1:23s, with a 1:23.700 to take pole for Sauber. Fernando Alonso immediately took it off him with a 1:23.169. "It was quite a good lap," said the Renault youngster. "Tomorrow we have a good chance of more points. Yesterday was not so good but we made a lot of changes to the car, which worked quite well."

Olivier Panis put in a decent lap in the Toyota to go second but Jordan's Giancarlo Fisichella disappointed with seventh. Sauber's Heinz-Harald Frentzen took fifth on his flying lap and David Coulthard fourth after running wide at Rivazza.

McLaren team-mate Kimi Raikkonen put in a very agressive lap to take pole with a 1:23.148, despite having a bit of a moment at Variante Alta. The Finn was just two hundredths faster than Alonso. The BAR duo were out next, Jacques Villeneuve having a storming lap to go second just one hundredth of a second behind Raikkonen. Jenson Button was fastest in sector one but lost out at Aqua Mineralli and managed fourth.

Mark Webber.
Photo by Brousseau Photo.
The final group started with Jaguar's Mark Webber. The Australian put in a super-smooth lap to take pole with 1:23.015, another great performance from Webber. Juan Pablo Montoya eclipsed him with a 1:22.789 but Williams team-mate Ralf Schumacher was on a blinder. Managing to take pole by nearly half a second, Ralf blitzed his way round Imola.

The Ferraris were out last, Rubens Barrichello in the spare car not bettering Ralf but Michael wound it up and rocketed to pole -- by one hundredth of a second. Incredible. Qualifying may not be the same as before but the new system certainly creates a tension of its own.

Ferrari is looking good, if they're going to claim their first race win of the year, what better place to do it than on home ground. However, Williams is going to cause trouble, both Ralf and Montoya well on the pace. Raikkonen and Webber won't be shy either although Coulthard ended up a poor twelfth.

Renault has not been too happy this weekend and BAR appear to be fairly together so tomorrow should be very interesting indeed. Final top eight classification: M. Schumacher, R. Schumacher, Barrichello, Montoya, Webber, Raikkonen, Villeneuve, Alonso.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Ferrari , Sauber , McLaren , Williams , Minardi , Jordan