Michael Schumacher took pole position for the Austrian Grand Prix after an excellent recovery from a slide that could have thrown it all away. The German fought the Ferrari at turn two but managed to hold it together, going on to complete the lap...
Michael Schumacher took pole position for the Austrian Grand Prix after an excellent recovery from a slide that could have thrown it all away. The German fought the Ferrari at turn two but managed to hold it together, going on to complete the lap in blistering style. He took pole from McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen by three hundredths of a second with a 1:09.150.
Ralf Schumacher was the first man out after failing to set a time in yesterday's qualifying session. The Williams man clocked 1:10.279 but wasn't very happy. "It was a bit nervous," he said about the car. "I couldn't really get it together, it was definitely not a good lap."
Jordan's Ralph Firman put in a good first sector but the effort dwindled away, over a second slower than the Williams. Just Wilson went out in the spare Minardi as his race car suffered a damaged front suspension in practice. It was a ragged lap that saw Wilson four seconds adrift.
"It all started in practice," Wilson said of his problematic day. "For some bizarre reason I shot into the wall, then in warm up I had a lot of understeer. I still had understeer on my qualifying lap."
Teammate Jos Verstappen was even less fortunate; a wobbly moment at turn one turned into a gearbox problem that saw him pull over to the side of the track shortly afterwards. Toyota's Cristiano da Matta was the last of the first group and went second fastest.
Heinz-Harald Frentzen started the second group and put the Sauber third with his flying lap. Olivier Panis was up on the provisional pole time in the first sector but tailed off, managing second for Toyota. Fernando Alonso was on a charge but perhaps a little too much; the Spaniard went off into the gravel in sector two. Renault didn't abort the lap, surprisingly, and Alonso eventually wound up nineteenth.
Nick Heidfeld put in the first really competitive time, despite being in the spare car, 1:09.725 to take provisional pole for Sauber. "It looks good at the moment," he said, but was not optimistic for staying near the front. "Unfortunately I had to drive quite early so there's a lot of drivers to go." It proved an unfounded concern.
Jarno Trulli was cautious on his attempt to go second quickest, followed by Giancarlo Fisichella into third. The Jordan was eclipsed by the Jaguar of Antonio Pizzonia who put in a tidy lap to take the position from Fisichella.
Kimi Raikkonen was next to the top of the times, his provisional pole a 1:09.189, half a second up on Heidfeld. McLaren teammate David Coulthard did not fare so well. A gear select problem on his race-car saw him debating whether to take the spare. In the end he decided on his own car but it was a ragged lap that only produced ninth.
Juan Pablo Montoya took second, a good lap for the Williams but two tenths down on Raikkonen. Jenson Button went wide at the last corner but managed fifth and BAR teammate Jacques Villeneuve got a bit over-enthusiastic. The Canadian was very wide at the first corner and again at the last, which put him tenth.
Mark Webber had a surprisingly uncomfortable lap, part of which he blamed on Villeneuve for the amount of dust on the track. He too had trouble at the last corner and finished a lowly fifteenth.
Rubens Barrichello was the first Ferrari out and he only managed fourth which was surprising after the pace of the team in practices and yesterday's qualifying. There were some happy faces in the pit lane when Michael had his wobbly moment but not for long; it was a remarkable recovery to take pole from Raikkonen and a well deserved position.
Williams was slightly disappointing after its pace in practice but a solid third on the grid for Montoya. Second is Raikkonen's highest qualifying position so far and a great effort from Heidfeld, who finished fourth. It will be interesting to see Coulthard and Alonso fighting their way through the grid and Webber will no doubt be doing the same.
If Michael keeps the lead through the first corner he will be hard to beat in the race but Raikkonen isn't going to make that first corner easy for him. Final top eight classification: M. Schumacher, Raikkonen, Montoya, Heidfeld, Barrichello, Trulli, Button, Pizzonia.