Rubens Barrichello gave the Interlagos crowds something to shout about when he took pole position in qualifying for the Brazilian Grand Prix. The Ferrari man clocked 1:10.646, two tenths ahead of the Williams of Juan Pablo Montoya, and McLaren's...
Rubens Barrichello gave the Interlagos crowds something to shout about when he took pole position in qualifying for the Brazilian Grand Prix. The Ferrari man clocked 1:10.646, two tenths ahead of the Williams of Juan Pablo Montoya, and McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen took third. The crowds were also cheering for Sauber's Felipe Massa, who was fourth.
Track temperature was up to the low forties at the start of pre-qualifying and Michael Schumacher was first to take to the track. Ferrari's champion will lose ten places on the grid after he crashed in practice this morning and had to use the spare car for qualifying, complete with new engine. He clocked a very quick 1:10.192, the fastest lap of the weekend so far.
Ralf Schumacher followed on and the Williams posted just six hundredths slower than the Ferrari. BAR's Jenson Button was four tenths off the pace for third and teammate Takuma Sato went better to take the place off him. Fernando Alonso led out for Renault and posted fifth, marginally behind Button.
Raikkonen took fourth, two and a half seconds down on Michael. Montoya had a storming effort to clock 1:09.862 -- the first under 1:10 and three tenths up on Michael for provisional pole. Giancarlo Fisichella took sixth and Sauber teammate Massa flew round to post second, just six hundredths down on Montoya, to the delight of his home fans.
Jacques Villeneuve clocked 10th behind teammate Alonso and Toyota's Jarno Trulli managed eighth, ahead of the Renaults and Button. Christian Klien's Jaguar was two seconds off the pace for 12th and Nick Heidfeld went one better in the Jordan for 11th. His teammate Timo Glock posted 14th.
Gianmaria Bruni headed the Minardi pair; he was over three seconds off provisional pole for 15th and Zsolt Baumgartner was slightly slower for 16th. David Coulthard put his McLaren sixth, one ahead of Raikkonen, and Rubens Barrichello sent the crowds wild by taking provisional pole with a 1:09.822, four hundredths up on Montoya.
Mark Webber was a few tenths better than Jaguar teammate Klien to take 14th and the third Brazilian running on home soil was Ricardo Zonta, the last man out. He posted 15th in the second Toyota. So, Barrichello, Montoya and Massa made up the top three at the end of pre-qualifying but how would they fare in the second, all-important session?
Baumgartner started the last qualifying session of the 2004 season with a 1:13.550. Bruni had a rear suspension problem and did not go out for a second lap, so Glock was next to run. He was just four hundredths faster than Baumgartner. Klien was an improvement, 1:12.211 for over a second up, although still some way off the expected pole time.
Heidfeld was six tenths down for second and Zonta was next to the top, 1:11.974, two tenths up on Klien. Webber was better again, three tenths quicker with a 1:11.665, and Villeneuve was a tenth off the Jaguar for second. His teammate Alonso took provisional pole by a couple of tenths, 1:11.454, which was not as quick as one might expect from the Spaniard.
Button was fast in the first sector and despite a wobbly moment in the middle he clocked 1:11.092, over three tenths up. Trulli managed a reasonable third and Fisichella slotted in behind in fourth. Raikkonen was the first in this session below 1:11, taking provisional pole with a 1:10.892. Coulthard couldn't match his teammate and clocked seventh, eight tenths down.
The track temperature was edging near to 50 degrees as Sato had a good crack at it, but he lost out in the final sector to post third. Ralf had an unsettled looking lap, although he set the fastest last sector to take fourth. Michael lost a little time in the middle sector and clocked fourth, but he will drop ten places on the grid.
Massa had the crowd cheering as he rocketed through his lap, up through one and two and just lost three hundredths on Raikkonen to take second. Excellent lap by the young Brazilian. Montoya was also on the pace, storming round to take provisional pole by four hundredths and Barrichello was last to run. The crowd went bonkers again when he claimed pole position with a 1:10.646.
Massa, Montoya and Barrichello really put on a show and drove superb laps at the end, Massa equalling his career best fourth grid position. Raikkonen also had an excellent lap and those top four were separated by mere hundredths. The top 12 were covered by fractionally over a second and even the Minardis were under three seconds from pole.
With qualifying behind him and pole position secured, Barrichello can breathe easier. "I start from the same place as last year, I have a very good car for the race and I am feeling very serene," he declared. "To be honest, the pressure has gone already."
Montoya admitted that he didn't think he would beat Barrichello: "It's very nice to be on the front row here, because Interlagos is the place where I nearly won my first F1 race in 2001," the Colombian commented. "Still I am very happy with this result because I think I was not able to beat Rubens anyway."
Raikkonen is hopeful for at least a podium finish tomorrow: "I had a couple of little moments on the lap but otherwise it was a good lap," he commented. "It's difficult to say what they are doing, we know what we're doing so we're confident. Hopefully third place is safe and maybe we can do better."
Michael finished eighth, so will be starting from 18th, which should be interesting. The BAR duo were solidly in the top ten, Button fifth and Sato sixth but Renault lost out in qualifying; Alonso struggled for ninth and Villeneuve was 14th. Coulthard also lost out, down in 13th.
With two Brazilians in the top four the crowds will have plenty to cheer for tomorrow. Massa will undoubtedly have a hard job, surrounded by faster cars, but he's been maturing nicely this season. Barrichello will be hungry for that win after nine years of non-finishes but Montoya and Raikkonen will be equally determined.
It promises to be an exciting race but anything could happen -- the forecasters are still predicting rain. Final top eight classification: Barrichello, Montoya, Raikkonen, Massa, Button, Sato, R. Schumacher, M. Schumacher.