Ferrari have been flying all weekend and although Michael Schumacher ruled the roost in practice, qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix belonged to Rubens Barrichello. His first flying lap looked to be the one until marred by a spin from Jenson...
Ferrari have been flying all weekend and although Michael Schumacher ruled the roost in practice, qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix belonged to Rubens Barrichello. His first flying lap looked to be the one until marred by a spin from Jenson Button that forced him to back off but Barrichello then put in an amazing 1:13.346 to take pole position from Michael by more than half a second. Michael fought back but couldn't quite match his team mate and when Barrichello improved his own time again, it was a done deal.
Weather conditions were good, track temperature around 29C, although there were still some spins due to the dusty, slippery surface. The abandoned Arrows pit garage was serving as a storage area and reportedly five of Arrows staff have jumped ship to BAR. Craig Pollock, who is one of the bidders for the Arrows team, could shed no light on the situation: "At the moment there is nothing signed," he said. "We are probably closest (to a deal) but it's getting further away; there's no team here this weekend."
The Michelin runners were struggling despite the warmer conditions and although Ralf Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya both held pole early on, they were relegated to the second row of the grid by the Ferrari speed. Williams were not entirely happy with the weekend so far: "We've been having a few difficulties getting the best out of the car," said technical director Patrick Head. "We're not as strong as we'd like to be." He dismissed the possibility of gaining pole position: "I think there would have to be some problems down in the Ferrari garage for that to happen!"
Problems abounded for McLaren, who were frankly dismal. David Coulthard and Kimi Raikkonen found themselves in the unfamiliar positions of tenth and eleventh respectively, behind both Saubers, both Renaults and the Jordan of Giancarlo Fisichella. Fisichella put in a great performance to qualify fifth although team mate Takuma Sato was less than impressive in fourteenth.
The Saubers were well on the pace, noticeably more so Felipe Massa than Nick Heidfeld. Massa has been strong all weekend and mostly kept the car on the track, finishing seventh fastest just ahead of Heidfeld. Massa's future at Sauber is uncertain but if he can keep it together in the race he should be able to be in the points.
Renault picked up from fairly scrappy practice session to finish with Jarno Trulli sixth and Button ninth. The Englishman's earlier spin didn't deter him and he was as high as fifth at one point. Trulli had a rather anonymous qualifying until he put in the flyer that placed him sixth behind Fisichella.
Outside the top ten it was pretty much business as usual. BAR's Olivier Panis finished one place ahead of Jacques Villeneuve in twelfth while the Jaguar's of Pedro de la Rosa and Eddie Irvine were fifteenth and sixteenth. Toyota struggled just ahead of the Minardis, a poor weekend so far for them.
Minardi new boy Anthony Davidson qualified half a second inside the 107% for his first Grand Prix and half a second behind team mate Mark Webber. "I feel comfortable in the car," Davidson said before the session. "I've been within the 107% in practices so I'm confident of qualifying." The newest driver on the grid received perhaps a record breaking fine in his first practice on Friday, for speeding in the pit lane within 13 seconds of going out. "It's so close to the end of the pit lane," Davidson said slightly sheepishly. "I forgot to hit the limiter. I've got no money to pay it!"
Bridgestone had the upper hand today but the track conditions gave many drivers problems, whether Bridgestone or Michelin tyre users. Several cars looked distinctly unbalanced and there were one or two off track excursions -- even Michael Schumacher was locking his front wheels on the odd occasion. Ferrari look set to be heading for claiming the Constructors' championship tomorrow but the action in the top ten should be interesting to watch. Final top six classification: Barrichello, M. Schumacher, R. Schumacher, Montoya, Fisichella, Trulli.