Trulli and Panis achieve highest qualifying positions this year A competitive and eventful qualifying session at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve for tomorrow's Canadian Grand Prix produced strong performances from Honda-powered drivers and cars,...
Trulli and Panis achieve highest qualifying positions this year
A competitive and eventful qualifying session at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve for tomorrow's Canadian Grand Prix produced strong performances from Honda-powered drivers and cars, which resulted in Jarno Trulli (Benson and Hedges Jordan Honda) and Olivier Panis (Lucky Strike BAR Honda) achieving their highest starting positions this year as they qualified fourth and sixth respectively to start from the second and third rows of the grid. Their team-mates Jacques Villeneuve (BAR Honda) and Ricardo Zonta (Jordan Honda) qualified ninth and 12th fastest.
Trulli's performance also equalled the best qualifying position for a Honda-powered F1 driver and car so far this year, achieved in the opening session of the season in Melbourne by his Jordan Honda team-mate Heinz-Harald Frentzen. Frentzen decided to sit out this race after experiencing dizziness and headaches following an accident in free practice yesterday and is replaced by Zonta, the Jordan Honda test driver.
The Schumacher brothers shared the first row once again as Michael put his Ferrari on pole position, half a second ahead of Ralf's Williams BMW, while McLaren's David Coulthard snatched third from Trulli in the closing seconds of the session. Qualifying was twice interrupted by red flags when the wall on the exit of the notorious final chicane received visitors, first Rubens Barrichello, who stopped activities with just under 20 minutes of the hour remaining, then Nick Heidfeld's Sauber with just one minute 35 seconds remaining. This last stoppage set the scene for a dramatic finale as most of the field poured out onto the circuit to try and cross the line for a last run before time ran out. Only Coulthard could improve, beginning his timed lap with 10 seconds left on the clock to scrape third position by just three-hundredths of a second from Trulli.
"I have mixed feeling about qualifying. I am very happy to be on the second row of the grid but also upset that I was denied the chance to improve my position on my last timed run. At least starting from fourth on the grid I have a good chance to do well in the race tomorrow. I am very sorry that Heinz will not race alongside me on Sunday. It's never nice for a driver not to be able to race but I look forward to seeing him back with the team, stronger than ever, at the Nurburgring. For this race though, it's good to have Ricardo standing in. He has worked hard on the development of the EJ11 and I hope he has a very good race."
Kazutoshi Nishizawa - Technical Director, Honda Racing Development
"It was a pity that we didn't get the best from the last lap attacks of Jarno and Olivier as there was potential for them to have improved. So far we have had no problems from an engine point of view. We will concentrate on extracting the best performance from the engine and, equally important, optimising our fuel consumption. We are confident that we are in a good position to achieve some positive results in the race"
Eddie Jordan, Chief Executive, Jordan Honda
"Both drivers did a great job today. Jarno's result is excellent and it is good to see him on the second row of the grid, although admittedly frustrating that David pipped him to third place. 12th place for Ricardo is commendable, especially since he missed so much running time this morning. I had predicted sixth and 12th today for the team, so we are delighted with this result."
Craig Pollock, Team Principal and Managing Director, BAR Honda
"It has been a difficult day. The team has worked extremely hard to make progress after the problems we had yesterday. Both drivers did an exceptional job under the circumstances and look as if they will be very competitive during the race. For us the objective is to put ourselves in a points-scoring position and we will be looking to achieve that tomorrow."