Grand Prix of Europe Qualifying, Saturday June 2001, 22 Michael and Ralf share the front row - Juan Pablo Montoya third World championship leader Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) secured his seventh pole position of the season prior to the Grand...
Grand Prix of Europe
Qualifying, Saturday June 2001, 22
Michael and Ralf share the front row - Juan Pablo Montoya third
World championship leader Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) secured his seventh pole position of the season prior to the Grand Prix of Europe, which takes place at the Nürburgring, Germany - close to his native Kerpen. The Ferrari driver had to fight hard, however, to hold the Michelin-shod Williams-BMWs of Ralf Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya at bay. After setting the pace in the final free practice session this morning, Schumacher Jnr and Montoya had to settle for second and third places, 0.26 and 0.53 seconds adrift of the pole winner. It is the third time this season that the Schumacher brothers have qualified on the front row.
"The car is going even better than we had dared to expect," said Ralf "The Michelins worked really well today and I think we are in for an interesting race. We will have to see what the car is like in race trim, but so far everything has gone well"
Despite being forced to drive Ferrari's spare car after his own developed a problem, Rubens Barrichello qualified fourth fastest, ahead of McLaren-Mercedes team-mates David Coulthard and Mika Hakkinen. Several drivers were denied a chance to improve their lap times at the end, because Coulthard ran wide into the gravel trap at the final corner and brought out the caution flags. Competitors face losing their best qualifying time if they go too quickly through a caution zone.
After a difficult first two days, when he has been bothered by fuel pressure problems and several spins, Eddie Irvine qualified his Jaguar 12th fastest - and third fastest of the Michelin runners.
Of the other Michelin drivers, Jean Alesi (Prost-Acer) will start 14th, Giancarlo Fisichella (Mild Seven Benetton Renault Sport) 15th, Pedro de la Rosa (Jaguar Racing) 16th, Luciano Burti (Prost-Acer) 17th, Jenson Button (Prost-Acer) 20th, Fernando Alonso (European Minardi) 21st and Tarso Marques (European Minardi) 22nd. Fisichella wiped out any chance of improving his time when he spun off on his fourth and final qualifying run. A capacity 142,000 crowd is expected to attend the race.
MICHELIN'S RACE :
Pierre Dupasquier (Motorsport Director) :
How disappointed are you not to have taken pole position?
"Not at all. The object of the exercise is not to take pole position, except in Monaco, but to win the race. True, overtaking is always a tricky business, but what you need is an ideal package to make the most of a racing situation. That's what we saw happening in Montreal two weeks ago. The performance of the two Williams-BMWs today was very satisfying, but they might not be a pointer to the result of the race. We will only know tomorrow whether teams have made the right choice today."
Are the A and B compounds well suited to the track?
"As expected, the track is not as abrasive as it was at the start of the meeting. We are very happy that the tyres we developed especially for the Nürburgring have worked well. It shows that we have the ability to understand circuits that are new to us."
Did Michelin's teams run new or scrubbed tyres today?
"All of them chose to go out on brand-new rubber this afternoon."
What will tomorrow's race strategy be?
"There are several valid options. Unlike recent races, there isn't an obvious tactic and we don't yet know what our partner teams will do. One thing is sure: both our tyre compounds will be capable of lasting a one-stop race as well as they will a two-stopper. From what we have been able to see, our rival's tyres have a significant wear rate. As far as we are concerned, however, we have seen nothing to cause any alarm and we are going into the race in a confident frame of mind."