Austrian GP qualifying report

Austrian GP Roulette: Pick a number and spin By Erica Southey - Motorsport.com The Saubers of Nick Heidfeld and Kimi Raikkonen stayed consistently in the top ten while Juan-Pablo Montoya and Ralf Schumacher in the Williams demonstrated the BMW...

Austrian GP Roulette: Pick a number and spin

By Erica Southey - Motorsport.com

The Saubers of Nick Heidfeld and Kimi Raikkonen stayed consistently in the top ten while Juan-Pablo Montoya and Ralf Schumacher in the Williams demonstrated the BMW power finishing second and third behind Michael Schumacher for tomorrow's Austrian GP. Rubens Barrichello looked set to join his teammate on the front row, but the Brazilian messed up somewhere in the last sector of his final lap. He spoilt an opportunity to repeat a Ferrari one and two for Austria. Back in the 1980s Patrick Tombay and Rene Arnoux were the first Ferrari pair to put the reds on the first row of the grid at Austria.

1997 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve, had a particularly bad day at the office, because the qualifying session saw him go off twice while on a flying lap. The first of his incidents was in turn one where he spun through the corner touching gravel and ending back on track. The second incident had him run wide onto the grass then into the gravel and finally back on track. He was fighting the back-end of the car quite hard at some points of the session.

It appears that traction control caught out a couple of drivers. Villeneuve wasn't the only one falling prey to spin offs and off track excursions. Michael Schumacher was on his last flying lap when in the closing stages he spun off spoiling what would have been the best lap of the session. Jean Alesi spun, hampering Eddie Irvine's lap while Irvine's teammate Pedro de la Rosa braked and spun to avoid Alesi. Not long after that, Fernando Alonso followed suit on another part of the track. Jos Verstappen and Heinz-Herald Frentzen were left in a cloud of dust following spin offs into the gravel. Tarso Marques in the Minardi joined the elite club of spinners, when earlier in the session he also spun off losing a valuable flying lap.

Friday free practice did suggest that we would be sure of spin offs, especially in turn one. Perhaps they should rename it to Spiral corner. Let's hope for these drivers, the dust has settled, well literally, so they won't have a repeat of today's session in tomorrow's race.

The disappointment of the day came from the ranks of McLaren. The team seemed to have it all together judging from the free practice sessions where the cars were in the top six. The qualifying session however, saw the team struggling and losing crucial positions which will definitely influence their race. Hats off to Mika Hakkinen who is fighting the flu, having to go at top speed and concentrate with a cloggy head. Question is, what is wrong in the McLaren paddock? What could have gone wrong between Free Practice and Qualifying? The team can hardly afford more setbacks, if they want to stay in the Championship contention.

The recipe: Michael Schumacher, Juan-Pablo Montoya, Ralf Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello. What could possibly go wrong? A hint; take a look at the last two names in this order ...............

We'll see you tomorrow at the scenic A-Ring in Austria for an action packed Austrian GP.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Eddie Irvine , Ralf Schumacher , Pedro de la Rosa , Michael Schumacher , Rubens Barrichello , Jean Alesi , Mika Hakkinen , Jacques Villeneuve , Nick Heidfeld , Kimi Raikkonen , Fernando Alonso , Tarso Marques , René Arnoux
Teams Ferrari , Sauber , McLaren , Williams , Minardi