Rubens Barrichello and Michael Schumacher secured an all-Ferrari front row on the grid for Sunday's season-opening Australian Grand Prix on Saturday when they broke all previous records at Albert Park in a rain-hit, but intriguing, qualifying ...
Rubens Barrichello and Michael Schumacher secured an all-Ferrari front row on the grid for Sunday's season-opening Australian Grand Prix on Saturday when they broke all previous records at Albert Park in a rain-hit, but intriguing, qualifying session. For Brazilian Barrichello, it was a memorable day as he registered the fourth pole position of his career in preparation for his 148th Formula One race with a lap record time of one minute and 25.843 seconds.
As the Mild Seven Renault F1 Team drivers Jarno Trulli and Jenson Button took seventh and 11 th places during the flurry of action that preceded a heavy rainfall 20 minutes into the session, Barrichello and Schumacher traded record fastest lap times. In the end, when the weather made certain that there would be no further improved times, Barrichello wound up five-thousandths of a second ahead of his team-mate, and quadruple champion, Schumacher, who is seeking to become the first driver to complete a hat-trick of victories in Melbourne.
It meant that, for the second successive year, Ferrari filled the front row and that for the seventh consecutive year the race will start with team-mates on the front row. In the past, the Williams and McLaren teams have dominated qualifying in the same way as Ferrari did in the dismal conditions this time. The Italian team were four-tenths of a second clear of their nearest rival, Schumacher's younger brother Ralf, in the leading Williams-BMW. He was third, ahead of the two McLaren-Mercedes-Benzs of David Coulthard and Kimi Raikkonen. Ralf Schumacher's Williams team-mate Juan-Pablo Montoya was sixth.
The session was littered with incidents including luckless Japanese debutant Takuma Sato's failure to clock a qualifying lap within 107 per cent of the pole after a gearbox problem prevented him lapping before the deluge. In the end, the weather and not the drivers or the spectators was the winner as the Australian event suffered its first wet qualifying session in seven years in Melbourne. Sato running in the difficult conditions was unable to clock a competitive time.
His disappointment was in contrast to the successes of the other 'new boys' as Brazilian Felipe Massa shone on his way to taking ninth place for Sauber ahead of his more experienced team-mate Nick Heidfeld, Allan McNish qualified 16th for the new Toyota team, just two places behind his team-mate Mika Salo, and local hero Australian Mark Webber secured his first race start by qualifying 18th in his Minardi. For the Jaguar team, however, it was a more disappointing day as Eddie Irvine and Pedro de la Rosa qualified 19th and 20th ahead of Malaysian Alex Yoong in the second Minardi.