The Michelin-shod BMW WilliamsF1 Team scooped the top two qualifying positions in the build-up to the Belgian Grand Prix Â the second time it has done so this season. On a track that was drying quickly after a midday downpour, Juan Pablo Montoya...
The Michelin-shod BMW WilliamsF1 Team scooped the top two qualifying positions in the build-up to the Belgian Grand Prix the second time it has done so this season. On a track that was drying quickly after a midday downpour, Juan Pablo Montoya posted a 1m 52.072s on his final lap to clinch the second pole of his F1 career. He was 0.887s faster than team-mate Ralf Schumacher.
World champion Michael Schumacher (Ferrari), who is chasing a record-breaking 52nd GP victory this weekend, was third fastest albeit 2.6 seconds adrift of Montoya.
"We knew it was going to get drier and drier," Montoya said, "so we did a decent lap on wet tyres, to make sure we were qualified for the race, and then waited until just before the end to try slicks. My first lap was OK, although the track was very slippery, and on my final lap I just thought I'd give it everything and it turned out to be quite a good lap. We lost a bit of time yesterday because I crashed, but we worked hard overnight to repair the car and we managed to come up with a really good set-up."
It was a good day for Michelin, whose cars held five of the top 10 positions. In his second race for Prost-Acer, Heinz-Harald Frentzen qualified fourth by far the team's best performance of the season. Its previous highest grid position was 11th, in Monaco. Giancarlo Fisichella (Benetton Renault Sport) maintained the strong form he has shown all weekend by qualifying eighth, which was his personal best for the year. For the fourth consecutive race Pedro de la Rosa was the quickest of Jaguar Racing's drivers. Although he ran off the track early in the session, he bounced back to set 10th fastest time.
Of the other Michelin runners, Jenson Button was 15th in the second Benetton-Renault, Eddie Irvine (Jaguar Racing) 17th and Luciano Burti (Prost-Acer) 18th. Irvine was unable to set a time at the end of the session, when the track was at its driest, because he pulled off with a technical problem.
European Minardi drivers Fernando Alonso and Tarso Marques must wait to find out whether they will be permitted to start. Along with Orange Arrows team-mates Enrique Bernoldi and Jos Verstappen, they were unable to lap within the required 107 per cent of the pole position time.
Pierre Dupasquier (Motorsport Director)
What was today's secret formula
"This all-Michelin front-row is the result of a simple formula: fit the right tyre at the right time. The difficulty today was knowing whether the rain forecast for the middle of the session was going to be heavy or not. Michael Schumacher came out just before the shower, which proved to be very light in the end. The track continued to dry out, allowing us to eventually fit dry-weather tyres. That's where we were able to make the difference. These in fact turned out to be ideal in the special circumstances: they were not as hard as the tyres we had for hotter temperatures and were therefore less violent in their reactions. The tyre chosen was conceived specifically with Spa in mind and it has proved to be very at home here. It will work equally well tomorrow, even in dry conditions."
Was this tyre the Prime (a) or the Option b?
"We never hid the fact that the Prime might prove a little unsuitable if the temperature was cool. It should therefore be easy to guess that the tyre used in qualifying was in fact the Option."
Did the intermediates work better than yesterday?
"No. They were OK but not good enough. We've still got work to do."
Did you gain any advantage from the test session carried out with
Toyota here a few days ago?"
"Absolutely not, and I'd like to make something perfectly clear: Toyota has not seen the tyre we used today. This team is currently carrying out a series of analytical tests, point by point, in order to better understand F1 racing. They do not need our latest race tyres at the moment. They are not that at that stage of development. To say otherwise would not be completely honest."