Formula One world championship leader Michael Schumacher secured his seventh consecutive pole position during qualifying for the third grand prix of the season in Brazil. The Ferrari driver never looked threatened and headed his rivals from ...
Formula One world championship leader Michael Schumacher secured his seventh consecutive pole position during qualifying for the third grand prix of the season in Brazil. The Ferrari driver never looked threatened and headed his rivals from the moment he completed the first of his four qualifying runs. Although he had not topped the timesheets previously during the weekend, the German admitted he had not been unduly concerned. "We didn't put our car in qualifying trim until today, when it mattered most," he said.
Schumacher's younger brother Ralf (BMW-Williams) qualified second, 0.31 seconds adrift, to give Michelin its first front-row F1 start since the 1984 Portuguese GP at Estoril. "I think I might have been even closer," Ralf said, "but I made a slight mistake on one run, which was potentially faster. For the race tomorrow I will just try my best. Starting on the dirty side of the track is a slight disadvantage, but I hope I'll be able at least to hold my position when we reach the first turn. After that we'll see what happens. Michelin in the last two races has supplied very good tyres and for the race tomorrow I think the heat will help us, because the tyre has worked very well in hot conditions."
Former champion Mika Hakkinen (McLaren-Mercedes) set third fastest time, while Schumacher Jnr's team-mate Juan Pablo Montoya completed a good day for the BMW WilliamsF1 Team by qualifying fourth. Fastest overall in the morning's final free practice session, the Colombian crashed on his first qualifying run and had to run back to the pits to take over the spare Williams chassis.
Jaguar was second best of the Michelin teams: Eddie Irvine (13th) just edged out team-mate Luciano Burti, who is making his first F1 start on home soil.
Jean Alesi (Prost-Acer) was right behind the two Jaguar drivers, while Gaston Mazzacane qualified 21st in the team's second car. Benetton Renault Sport drivers Giancarlo Fisichella and Jenson Button will line up for the race in 18th and 20th places. Both European Minardi drivers were delayed by spins. Fernando Alonso took 20th place and Tarso Marques - one of four Brazilians in the field - was 22nd. Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari) was fastest of the Brazilian drivers, in sixth place.
Michelin's Day @ Pierre Dupasquier (Motorsport Director):
"This is clearly a good performance and we are delighted for Ralf! I think Juan Pablo could have been even higher if he had not gone off. Obviously the race is another matter, but for the moment we are very happy for the BMW WilliamsF1 Team to have both their cars on the front two rows. It was also very satisfying to see Juan Pablo quickest this morning."
"The split times are also very interesting and show the difference in the overall performance and top speeds of the respective teams. From a tyre point of view, Saturday does not always give us a clearer indication of how they will perform in the race, as obviously the teams are only going for one quick lap. However, it would seem that the performance is there, now we will have to see for the durability and what strategies the teams adapt. As we have always said, if one team can perform this well, obviously the tyre is up to the game."