Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams-BMW/Michelin) secured his fourth consecutive Formula One pole position with a scintillating lap at Silverstone. Having trailed the world championship-leading Ferrari team throughout the first two days of the meeting,...
Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams-BMW/Michelin) secured his fourth consecutive Formula One pole position with a scintillating lap at Silverstone. Having trailed the world championship-leading Ferrari team throughout the first two days of the meeting, the Colombian hit back in the final moments of qualifying to post a 1m 18.998s lap -- 1.5 seconds faster than last season's fastest qualifying time. It is his fifth pole position of the campaign, although he will still be chasing his first win of the season when tomorrow's race begins. "I'm not sure where that time came from," Montoya said, "but we made lots of changes to the car and they paid off."
Ferrari drivers Rubens Barrichello and Michael Schumacher set the pace during the morning's final free practice, when teams adapted to a dry circuit for the first time this weekend, but they had to settle for second and third respectively. Montoya edged out Barrichello by just 0.034s.
He spearheaded a clutch of six Michelin cars in the top 10, ahead of Ralf Schumacher (Williams-BMW, fourth), Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren-Mercedes, fifth), David Coulthard (McLaren-Mercedes, sixth), Jarno Trulli (Renault, seventh) and Mika Salo (Toyota, eighth). Salo has recovered from the stomach ailment that prevented him from driving yesterday and qualified in the top ten for the sixth time this season.
Jenson Button (Renault, 12th) was quickest of the remaining Michelin runners. Allan McNish (Toyota) was 15th and Mark Webber (KL Minardi-Asiatech) 20th, but there was disappointment for Jaguar team-mates Eddie Irvine and Pedro de la Rosa. Despite an encouraging test in Barcelona with a revised version of the team's revised R3 chassis, they were 19th and 21st respectively. De la Rosa spun at Stowe Corner on his first run and technical problems prevented him from attempting another qualifying run until right at the end, when he just had to time to complete a full flying lap. Webber's team-mate Alex Yoong failed to lap within the mandatory 107 per cent of the pole position time and must wait to see whether he will be allowed to start the race.
The cash-strapped Arrows team missed yesterday's free practice while contractual problems were resolved, but returned to the track today and will participate in tomorrow's race.
Pierre Dupasquier (Motorsport Director)
Four pole positions in a row for Juan Pablo Montoya, Williams-BMW and Michelin. That was quite a lap at the end of the session--
"We are getting used to Juan Pablo doing this type of thing. He is the kind of driver who works out the best approach to each corner during his first couple of runs, then puts it all together at the same time at the end of the session. He's very good at it -- and if you can do that you always have a chance of pole position. He is a driver who always has the capacity to spring a surprise and it is clear that Williams and BMW have done a brilliant job today."
How do you assess Michelin's performance today?
"I am very satisfied. The tyres we used in the previous race at the Nurburgring had to be looked after very carefully. They were good in qualifying trim but had to be treated gently during the race. Here I think we have taken an opposite approach: despite what Juan Pablo has achieved I honestly thought we would be in better shape for the race here than we would for qualifying. The tyres seem to be good and consistent -- and from what we have seen we will be able to do the race with just a single stop. I don't have any fears about wear rate, although there are no guarantees in this business and we will have to see tomorrow whether my instincts are correct."
You have only had one day of dry running at Silverstone. How much of a handicap is that in terms of preparing for a possibly rain-free race?
"Everybody is in the same boat but in theory it is a huge disadvantage because all teams want to do as much running as possible in free practice to assess all the available set-up options. Yesterday's rain denied us that, although it gave us a valuable chance to assess our wet tyres. As we have seen today, however, it doesn't seem to have been too much of a setback. With one car on pole position and another five in the top eight, it has been a good qualifying session for us."