Austrian GP Michelin qualifying report

World championship leader Michael Schumacher recorded his fifth pole position of the year during qualifying for the sixth race of the Formula 1 season at Austria's A1-Ring. Always looking in control, the German lapped his Ferrari in 1m 09.562s ­...

World championship leader Michael Schumacher recorded his fifth pole position of the year during qualifying for the sixth race of the Formula 1 season at Austria's A1-Ring. Always looking in control, the German lapped his Ferrari in 1m 09.562s ­ fractionally ahead of BMW WilliamsF1 Team drivers Juan Pablo Montoya and Ralf Schumacher. The pole position winner might have gone slightly faster, too, had he not been forced to take evasive action on his final lap, when Arrows driver Jos Verstappen spun in front of him.

Montoya and Schumacher celebrated the best qualifying performance of the season for the Michelin-equipped BMW WilliamsF1 Team. F1 rookie Montoya will make his maiden appearance on the front row after outpacing the younger Schumacher for the first time this season. "Things went pretty well," Montoya said. "I have had problems in the build-up to qualifying on several occasions this year and it is nice to have had a trouble-free weekend so far."

The McLarens of David Coulthard and Mika Hakkinen were expected to feature in the battle for pole, but after running strongly all weekend they faded this afternoon and will line up seventh and eighth.

Eddie Irvine maintained his consistent form in the Michelin-shod Jaguar: he qualified 13th for the fourth consecutive race. In his second race for Jaguar, Irvine's team-mate Pedro de la Rosa joins Irvine on the seventh row of the grid. Luciano Burti (Prost-Acer) was fastest of the remaining Michelin runners, in 17th place. Fernando Alonso recovered from an early spin to qualify his European Minardi 18th, ahead of Giancarlo Fisichella (Mild Seven Benetton Renault Sport), Jean Alesi (Prost- Acer), Jenson Button (Mild Seven Benetton Renault Sport) and Tarso Marques (European Minardi). It was a particularly frustrating session for Marques. He managed just one flying lap because he spun his race chassis into the gravel and then suffered an engine problem with the spare.

MICHELIN'S RACE :

Pierre Dupasquier (Motorsport Director) :

The track

"The circuit was very dirty this morning, but gradually everything settled down. In terms of grip and the level of abrasion, we weren't surprised by developments. Tyre wear was even less today than it was yesterday, which all in all is quite normal."

Can you explain why so many cars flew off the track during qualifying?

"On a circuit that offers a high level of grip, you lose aerodynamic downforce if you stray off line, but the nature of the track allows you to recover a sliding car. But on a low-grip circuit such as this, the slightest error can be costly. That will be just as true during tomorrow's race."

What's the best tyre choice ­ hard or soft?

"Each chassis uses tyres in a slightly different way and, in that respect, the same type of tyre can produce a different level of performance from team to team. All I can say is that the two tyre compounds Michelin has brought along are effective. We were not mistaken with our choice."

Is Williams using soft tyres?

"Let's just say that even our meagre F1 experience, with just five grands prix under our belt, allows us to be less conservative from race to race without that necessarily being a risk."

What's the best strategy for tomorrow?

"It will probably be a one-stop race, even if there remains a slight concern about what condition the soft tyres are going to be in at the end of a stint. It will all depend on what the track is like, but we have no concerns at all about safety."

Patrick Head, Technical Director, WilliamsF1 :

"The Michelin tyres were obviously extremely good for qualifying and we used fresh sets"

-Michelin

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