THREE ON THE TROT FOR MONTOYA Juan Pablo Montoya, Williams-BMW and Michelin scored their third consecutive Formula One pole position when the Colombian driver outpaced his rivals during qualifying for the Grand Prix of Europe. Montoya - still ...
THREE ON THE TROT FOR MONTOYA
Juan Pablo Montoya, Williams-BMW and Michelin scored their third consecutive Formula One pole position when the Colombian driver outpaced his rivals during qualifying for the Grand Prix of Europe. Montoya - still chasing his first win of the season - clocked the seventh pole of his F1 career (and his fourth of the season) with a 1m 29.906s lap that put him just 0.009s clear of Williams-BMW team-mate Ralf Schumacher. "We had some problems this morning," Montoya said, "and went into the session without a full set of data, so I am very pleased with the way things turned out - even though I made small errors on my first and fourth runs."
The latter's world championship-leading brother Michael was also in the thick of the battle. A gearbox problem on his opening run forced him to switch to his spare car, but on his fourth and final lap the German came close to toppling Montoya until a small mistake at the final turn cost him time that left him 0.129s adrift. In tomorrow's race the elder Schumacher is aiming to increase his record-breaking tally of 59 grand prix wins - and also to become the first driver ever to win four grands prix at the Nürburgring.
In addition to locking out the front row, Michelin has five other cars in the top 10. David Coulthard (McLaren-Mercedes) qualified fifth, immediately ahead of team-mate Kimi Räikkönen. The Renaults of Jarno Trulli and Jenson Button will start seventh and eight, while Mika Salo again put in a strong performance for the fledgling Toyota team and qualified 10th - the fifth time in nine races that he will have lined up in the top 10.
In a largely incident-free session, Allan McNish (Toyota, 13th) was quickest of the remaining drivers on Michelin tyres, ahead of Pedro de la Rosa (Jaguar, 16th), Eddie Irvine (Jaguar, 17th), Mark Webber (KL Minardi-Asiatech, 20th) and Alex Yoong (KL Minardi-Asiatech, 22nd).
Michelin's day, Pierre Dupasquier (Motorsport Director)
Michelin has locked out the front row of the grid, picked up its third consecutive pole position - its fourth of the season - and also has seven cars in the top 10. A good day's work!
"Our results so far this weekend have been very satisfying but they weren't completely unexpected. For this track we have quite deliberately produced tyres that offer extremely high performance whether drivers choose to run our primary (A) or option (B) compound. Our next job is to make them last in the race, but that will be tomorrow's challenge."
Will both types of tyre be seen in the race tomorrow?
"Yes. I am not quite sure what the split is, but I think more of our partner teams will be using the softer, option tyre. The fact we are using both kinds of tyre will also allow some teams to attempt enterprising race strategies."
If tyre wear is going to be a concern, will it be possible for Michelin drivers to do the race on a single tyre stop tomorrow?
"From what we have seen so far, yes. Of course, it always depends on a range of factors, including how heavy a car is at the start of a race, how it is set up and how carefully a driver looks after his tyres."
Recent results indicate that Michelin and its partners are in a position to take the fight to Ferrari on a regular basis at the moment!
"Absolutely. We have made a huge amount of progress since we returned to Formula One last season and have improved how to develop tyres suited to coping with different circumstances. All our partner teams are working flat out, too, and I think our partners and us will be more and more contending to the top.
How optimistic are you about tomorrow's race?
"I'm reasonably confident. There is every reason to think that we will be in very good shape."