By his own admission Juan Pablo Montoya doesn't know exactly how he managed to take his fourth successive pole position, but the BMW Williams driver did just that by finding almost a second on his final run to snatch the provisional pole position...
By his own admission Juan Pablo Montoya doesn't know exactly how he managed to take his fourth successive pole position, but the BMW Williams driver did just that by finding almost a second on his final run to snatch the provisional pole position from Rubens Barrichello and Michael Schumacher.
"We did a lot of changes and we went through qualifying balancing the car and to be honest I don't know where that came from," admitted the Colombian. It was enough, but only just -- as Montoya lapped the Northamptonshire circuit in 1:18.998, just 0.034s faster than his rivals.
Once again it was Rubens Barrichello who proved to be the faster of the two Ferrari drivers, pushing the Ferrari number one back down to third position by lapping just a hundredth of a second faster. It wasn't an easy run for the Brazilian as his first lap was ruined due to yellow flags on track, then on his second run his seat belt became undone. His third timed lap was good enough for the front row while his final attempt was ruined due to traffic.
While Montoya shook his head in disbelief as he clambered from his pole winning BMW Williams, Ralf Schumacher must be wondering what he has to do to beat his teammate for pace. The younger Schumacher held the upper hand throughout the qualifying session, but come crunch time, was unable to raise his game like Montoya did and qualified in fourth position alongside brother Michael on the second row of the grid.
One has to wonder why Formula One has one-hour qualifying sessions as once again there was no track activity at all for the first 15-minutes with viewers at home and fans at the circuit as frustrated as ever with the non-activity. Thankfully Enrique Bernoldi uncorked the bottle as he took to the circuit with the dispute between the Arrows team and Cosworth seemingly solved -- for this weekend at least.
Over at McLaren Mercedes Kimi Raikkonen pushed David Coulthard down to sixth position, but it was a far from easy day for the McLaren team with Ron Dennis seen in the pit garage directing his staff as work was carried out on Raikkonen's primary car before his final run. It came together again for the Finn, while Coulthard was two-tenths of a second slower than Kimi Raikkonen.
Jarno Trulli set the seventh fastest time in his Renault, but the weekend so far has not gone according to plan for the French team. There were high hopes for this race weekend, but so far the balance on the Renault does not look good and they, more than any other Michelin runner, seem to be suffering with excessive understeer. Understeer was the least of Jenson Button's problems as his Renault V10 failed dramatically on his first qualifying run. A run back to the pits and into the spare car yielded 12th place on the grid for Button at his home event.
Mika Salo missed all of yesterday's running due to suspected food poisoning but wasted no time hauling his Toyota right up into the thick of the action with a fine effort to start tomorrow's race from eighth place on the grid. Teammate Allan McNish was just 16th overall in what was a pretty poor performance.
Jacques Villeneuve took advantage of his grippy Bridgestone rubber to qualify his BAR Honda in ninth place, while Olivier Panis did a good job to qualify just four places further back after losing virtually all of the morning practice session with first an electrical problem, then an engine failure. For BAR, their home race will hopefully bring them their first points of the year.
The Sauber duo of Nick Heidfeld and Felipe Massa proved closely matched as ever taking 11th and 12th places respectively. Jordan failed to live up to their wet pace demonstrated yesterday, with Takuma Sato and Giancarlo Fisichella qualifying 14th and 17th. With tobacco advertising outlawed in the UK, team opted to run with modified slogans. Jordan has done the best job of this word play this year by dropping letters from the Benson and Hedges sponsor to read Be On Edge. On edge is certainly something you can say is true of both Jordan drivers this afternoon at Silverstone. Giancarlo Fisichella's weekend was soon heading downhill rapidly when his Jordan Honda ground to a halt at the far side of the circuit. Teammate Takuma Sato was also in trouble when his front nose collapsed as he was on his fast lap. The team face a hard race tomorrow if they have any hope of scoring points.
Heinz-Harald Frentzen will be disappointed to start back in 16th place, but in the great scheme of things must be secretly relieved to be running at all following the happening of the last few days within Tom Walkinshaw's team.
If you thought things were bad at Jordan, then take a look at the Jaguar team. Pedro da la Rosa ruined his first run by going off at the first turn and then suffered a water leak. Instead of giving the Spaniard the spare Jaguar the team chose to fix the heavily modified R3. Unfortunately for de la Rosa, the repairs were complete with just three minutes of the session remaining and subsequently he starts last.
Eddie Irvine meanwhile qualified his R3 in 19th place. Irvine was asked by his crew for any comments on his balance -- "it's just all shit," Irvine replied over his radio as he abandoned his third qualifying run. Certainly this would not have been music to the team member's ears as they had pinned their hopes on this race and the major revisions they have made to the frankly uncompetitive R3 chassis.
Mark Webber starts in 20th place and one has to wonder what he could do with a more competitive team. Interestingly, Webber recently tested for Jaguar and found that the Jaguar was better at high speed, but the Minardi better at low speed turns. Teammate Alex Yoong suffered no major drama, but once again failed to qualify putting to rest his claims during the build up that he had made real progress with his pace. Clearly Yoong just should not be in Formula One, nice guy or not.
Back at Williams, Montoya's eighth career pole position was simply stunning and Ferrari knows that. The real question now for BMW Williams is can they get their Michelin rubber to last the distance at race pace? As ever, we all know Montoya will be doing his very best.