SECOND STRAIGHT POLE FOR RALF SCHUMACHER AND MICHELIN Bibendum's partners dominate during big race build-up The cold, damp cloak surrounding the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve lifted this morning and final qualifying for the Canadian Grand Prix ...
SECOND STRAIGHT POLE FOR RALF SCHUMACHER AND MICHELIN
Bibendum's partners dominate during big race build-up
The cold, damp cloak surrounding the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve lifted this morning and final qualifying for the Canadian Grand Prix took place beneath overcast skies on a dry track, although there were many slippery patches off the racing line. Michelin teams totally dominated the session: BMW WilliamsF1 Team drivers Ralf Schumacher -- winner here in 2001 -- and Juan Pablo Montoya locked out the front row and were two of seven Michelin drivers to annexe places in the top nine.
Schumacher put together a neat, efficient 1m 15.529s lap that gave him pole by 0.394 seconds. Montoya's challenge was mildly compromised when he locked up a front wheel at Turn Three. Schumacher said: "I took it a bit easy into the first turn, which I think paid off when you look at how many drivers seemed to have problems there. The car felt pretty much perfect all the way round and the Michelins worked really well." It is the German's second consecutive F1 pole and the third of his career.
Fernando Alonso (Renault) was fourth -- just 0.001 seconds slower than world champion Michael Schumacher. Alonso's team-mate Jarno Trulli (eighth) was forced to use the spare Renault chassis after crashing his own during the 15-minute pre-qualifying warm-up.
After a quiet start to the meeting -- and a couple of minor off-track excursions yesterday -- Mark Webber (Jaguar) showed his customary qualifying flair and set sixth fastest time. His team-mate Antonio Pizzonia has adapted well to the Montreal circuit on his first visit. He was quickest in yesterday morning's free practice session and -- after qualifying on a relatively heavy fuel load -- will start the race from 13th position.
Both Toyota drivers had troubled starts to the weekend. Olivier Panis crashed yesterday and Cristiano da Matta hit the barriers quite heavily this morning after losing control when his Toyota TF103 aquaplaned through one of the many puddles that made the final free practice session very difficult. They bounced back this afternoon to lap seventh and ninth fastest respectively.
It was a trying session for the McLaren-Mercedes. David Coulthard managed a clear lap but was only 11th fastest. His world championship-leading team-mate Kimi Räikkönen crashed at the first corner and will have to start from 20th -- and last -- place on the grid. The Finn is currently four points clear of Michael Schumacher in the title race.
Michelin's day: Pierre Dupasquier -- Michelin Motorsport Director
PACE -- THE FINAL FRONTIER
Just as they dominated qualifying for the previous race in Monaco, so Michelin's partner teams held the upper hand during the final build-up to the Canadian Grand Prix at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. Ralf Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya set the fastest two times for the BMW WilliamsF1 Team -- a third career pole for the German and the 121st for Williams. Seven Michelin cars from four partner teams will occupy nine of the top grid positions tomorrow. Michelin motorsport director Pierre Dupasquier said: "This was a very good result. As always, we won't know the full picture with regard to fuel strategies until after the race, but it is clear that Michelin is in very good shape for this grand prix."
Adverse weather restricted teams' dry-weather running prior to today's qualifying session -- but Michelin used data accrued during Friday morning's rain-free test session to help its partner teams' preparations. Pierre Dupasquier said: "We always allow our partners to have access to all the available tyre data. Track conditions were very different yesterday morning from those we saw today, but from the moment we hit the track it was clear that our A and B tyres suited conditions in Montreal and there will be more than one type of Michelin on the grid tomorrow, assuming it remains dry."
ROCKIN' ALL OVER THE WORLD
The Canadian GP is one of four major motorsport events Michelin is trying to win this weekend -- along with the Le Mans 24 Hours and rounds of the MotoGP series (in Barcelona) and Superbike World Championship (at Silverstone). Pierre Dupasquier said: "I could have attended any of the events -- but I have come to Canada because Formula One remains our newest challenge and this is the domain in which we still have most to learn. As we have seen today, though, we appear to be making excellent progress."