World championship leader Michael Schumacher qualified his Ferrari on pole position for the British Grand Prix, the eighth time in 11 races he has done so this season. After persistent heavy rain during the morning, when Schumacher was one of ...
World championship leader Michael Schumacher qualified his Ferrari on pole position for the British Grand Prix, the eighth time in 11 races he has done so this season. After persistent heavy rain during the morning, when Schumacher was one of several drivers who spun off the circuit, the circuit was almost dry by the time qualifying started. Teams waited almost 25 minutes before venturing out while the final wet patches disappeared and Schumacher produced a 1m 20.447s on the third of his four qualifying laps. McLaren star Mika Hakkinen almost matched Schumacher on his final run, but the Finn came up just 0.082s short. Schumacher's closest title rival David Coulthard (McLaren) was third fastest, ahead of Jarno Trulli (Jordan), Heinz-Harald Frentzen (Jordan) and Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari). Juan Pablo Montoya (BMW WilliamsF1 Team) was fastest of the Michelin runners, in eighth place. The Colombian was forced to take the spare Williams chassis, originally set up for his team-mate Ralf Schumacher, after his own car developed a technical problem before Montoya had chance to attempt a proper qualifying lap. It is only the second time this year that Montoya has outqualified the younger Schumacher, who will line up immediately behind his team-mate in 10th place.
Pedro de la Rosa (Jaguar Racing, 13th) was best of the remaining Michelin runners, ahead of Jean Alesi (Prost-Acer, 14th), Eddie Irvine (Jaguar Racing, 15th), Luciano Burti (Prost-Acer, 16th), Jenson Button (Benetton Renault Sport, 18th), Giancarlo Fisichella (Benetton Renault Sport, 19th), Fernando Alonso (European Minardi, 21st) and Tarso Marques (European Minardi, 22nd).
Marques must wait to find out whether he will be allowed to start the race, because his best qualifying lap was not within 107 per cent of the pole position time. On his final qualifying attempt, his chances were compromised because almost the whole field was on the track at the same time and several cars obstructed his progress. He might be allowed to take part, however, at the stewards' discretion.
Pierre Dupasquier (Motorsport Director)
What lessons have you learned from today's qualifying session?
"We are disappointed not to have been able to help our partner teams to obtain better grid positions. Juan Pablo Montoya's car suffered a breakage after he ran over a kerb and he had to take the spare car. As for Ralf, he did four laps with his first set of tyres and was held up by traffic at the end. Was it that our tyres weren't working well, or was it down to circumstances? We will only know the answer tomorrow, during the race."
Which is the best option compound A or B?
"You can race on both. Some of our partner teams have chosen the harder tyre, others the softer."
Have you been able to learn much about how your wet tyre has progressed following this morning's free practice?
"Not really, because the track temperature was too cold. It is very hard to work when it is only about 8 or 9 degrees and we still have plenty work to do in this area. What's more, we brought along a new tyre compound that is designed for use on a drying track, but that wasn't suitable for this morning's conditions."
Did your teams qualify on fresh or scrubbed tyres?
"They all ran on new tyres, as usual."
What is the best race strategy for tomorrow?
"That's hard to say, because we have had very little dry running as a result of this morning's rain. We aren't too sure how our tyres will perform with a full fuel load. We didn't have time to analyse that yesterday. Again, the question will be answered during the race."