After a battle between the two Schumacher brothers in qualifying for the German Grand Prix, 2002 World Champion Michael Schumacher took his first Hockenheim pole position. His brother, Ralf Schumacher of Williams-BMW, will join him on the front...
After a battle between the two Schumacher brothers in qualifying for the German Grand Prix, 2002 World Champion Michael Schumacher took his first Hockenheim pole position. His brother, Ralf Schumacher of Williams-BMW, will join him on the front row in Sunday's race.
Michael Schumacher set a time of 1 minute, 14.389 seconds on his final qualifying lap at the heavily revised circuit, taking his fourth pole of 2002 and the 47th of his career. "It is a dream to get my first Hockenheim pole and hopefully also the win tomorrow," said Michael Schumacher. "I am more than excited about this and I would like to transform today's performance into victory in the race, as I have never won here with Ferrari. "Seeing the excitement on the face of the fans and to feel their excitement was a boost for me."
Ralf Schumacher, who had the fastest time late in qualifying, set a 1:14.570 lap time. "Clearly Michael was better today," said Ralf Schumacher. "I hope not tomorrow. We will find out." Hockenheim, once a combination of a tight stadium section and long straights, has become a twisty and tight track. On Saturday, many drivers had quick first- and second-sector times during their qualifying laps, but lost time in the final sector leading back into the main stadium section as they struggled to find a good balance.
Rubens Barrichello of Ferrari set the third-fastest time with a 1 minute, 14.693 second lap. Barrichello missed the final practice before qualifying after he had a crash. "I'm quite pleased with the job the team has done with my car because I had a small 'off' today so basically I lost quite a lot of track time," the Brazilian said. "But it's been a good session and hopefully I can steal the party from (Michael and Ralf)." Starting fourth will be Williams-BMW driver Juan Pablo Montoya, who had sat on pole in the last five Grands Prix.
His best lap time was a 1:15.108. "After having achieved five poles in a row I can cope with starting from second row," said Montoya. The last time the Schumacher brothers sat on the front row together was at last year's United States Grand Prix. Last year, Ralf Schumacher won the German Grand Prix after his brother dropped out, which was also the last time Michael Schumacher has failed to finish a race.
Michael Schumacher has only won the German Grand Prix once, in 1995 when he was driving a Benetton-Renault. "I don't think I have done a pole position (at Hockenheim) ... and neither have I won the race for Ferrari here in Hockenheim so that is an ideal result which I hope I can transform into victory tomorrow," said Schumacher. "That's our target, but there are obviously a couple of guys that disagree." Others to start in the top 10 on Sunday include McLaren-Mercedes' driver Kimi Raikkonen, who qualified fifth with a 1:15.639 lap.
After struggling on Friday, the Honda-powered cars improved in qualifying, with a Jordan-Honda and a British American Racing-Honda in the top 10. A surprise sixth-fastest was Jordan-Honda driver Giancarlo Fisichella, who missed the French Grand Prix after crashing in practice. The Italian's best lap was 1 minute, 15.690 second. Starting seventh will be Olivier Panis' BAR-Honda, who set a 1:15.851 lap. Panis' teammate, Jacques Villeneuve, will start 11th after setting a lap of 1 minute, 16.070 seconds.
Takuma Sato of Jordan-Honda will start in 12th. His best lap was 1:16.072. The top 10 was rounded-out by Jarno Trulli in a Renault, David Coulthard of McLaren-Mercedes and Nick Heidfeld on Sauber-Petronas. Twenty-one of 22 drivers qualified for the Grand Prix, with Alex Yoong of Minardi-Asiatech failing to set a time fast enough to make the race.
In France last week, only 19 cars started the race, the smallest field since 1982, after both Arrows-Cosworth cars failed to qualify and Fisichella was forced to sit the race out. Arrows' Heinz-Harald Frentzen qualified 15th and his teammate Enrique Bernoldi qualified 18th. Minardi-Asiatech's sole-remaining driver, Mark Webber, will bring up the rear of the field on Sunday while both Jaguar and Toyota struggled, their drivers filling the mid- and back-field positions.