Juan Pablo Montoya (BMW WilliamsF1 Team/Michelin) secured his third pole position of the season and the sixth of his career after seeing off a close challenge from world championship leader Michael Schumacher (Ferrari). Montoya posted a 1m 12.836s...
Juan Pablo Montoya (BMW WilliamsF1 Team/Michelin) secured his third pole position of the season and the sixth of his career after seeing off a close challenge from world championship leader Michael Schumacher (Ferrari). Montoya posted a 1m 12.836s -- the fastest lap yet seen around the revised Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal -- to beat his arch-rival by just 0.182s.
Montoya was the only driver to break the 1m 13s barrier -- and he did it twice. Schumacher's chances of retaliating at the end of the session were spoiled by a few spots of rain that affected one or two parts of the track. Montoya said: "The car has been very competitive so far, and the tyres play a very important role. It is going to be an interesting race tomorrow where strategy and tyres will be important factors."
Michaël Schumacher's team-mate Rubens Barrichello will line up third, despite an accident during Saturday morning's final free practice session and a spin towards the end of qualifying. He starts just ahead of Michelin drivers Ralf Schumacher (BMW Williams F1 Team) and Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren-Mercedes).
Ralf, the winner of the last year's Canadian Grand Prix had a technical problem, meant that he had to switch to the T-car which was set for Montoya. "The T-car was set up for Juan but I have managed to take the best out of it anyway. I am confident for the race, also because I am sure that Michelin are competitive here."
David Coulthard (McLaren-Mercedes, eighth) and Jarno Trulli (Renault, 10th) were the other Michelin drivers to crack the top 10. It was a dramatic session for Trulli, who was hindered when he smashed his race chassis into one of the circuit's concrete retaining walls and had to return the crippled car to the pit lane before switching to his team's spare chassis for his final run.
Jenson Button (Renault, 13th) led the remaining Michelin runners, ahead of Eddie Irvine (Jaguar, 13th), Pedro de la Rosa (Jaguar, 14th), Mika Salo (Toyota, 18th), Allan McNish (Toyota, 20th), Mark Webber (KL Minardi-Asiatech, 21st) and Alex Yoong (KL Minardi-Asiatech, 22nd). De la Rosa had to abort one run because of a spin. Yoong failed to complete the last of four qualifying laps because a technical problem forced him to pull off the track.
Local favourite Jacques Villeneuve (BAR-Honda) starts ninth -- his best grid position of the season. Italian Giancarlo Fisichella gave the Jordan team heart by posting his first top-six qualifying performance of the season, but his team-mate Takuma Sato's session was ruined by a spectacular engine failure.
Pierre Dupasquier (Motorsport Director)
Juan Pablo Montoya scored Michelin's third pole position of the season today and its second in succession after Monaco. Montreal is a very different kind of circuit from Monte Carlo. You must be very pleased...
"You don't earn pole positions by chance... This proves the potential of the Williams-BMW-Michelin package. The team did a very good job and the fact Juan Pablo's best two laps were a 1m 12.8s and a 1m 12.9s is a good sign. It shows that Williams has a very good set-up and is capable of taking on -- and beating -- the Ferraris."
Montoya was the only driver to break the 1m 13s barrier. What did you make of that?
"He did a good job -- but I think Ralf Schumacher might have been able to achieve that, too, had he not been forced to switch to his T-car because of a technical problem. I think that stopped him showing his full potential."
The common perception is that Ferrari has an advantage over the Michelin teams in cooler weather. Do you feel that Montoya's performance in today's cloudy conditions has helped lay that idea to rest?
"I hope so. I have always said that we are able to run competitively in warm or cool weather."
Does your option (B) tyre show any advantage over your primary (A) compound, or vice-versa?
"There is not a lot to choose between them and we will see both used in the race. Both are relatively soft compounds but they have different characteristics that cancel each other out in performance terms. The harder one tends to wear at a similar rate to the softer one because it slides around more."
This has traditionally been a one-stop race. Do you expect that to change this year?
"It might. The revised pit layout means cars can get in and out more quickly so I believe it is entirely possible that we will see some teams running two-stop strategies."