Michael Schumacher claimed provisional pole position in the Thursday qualifying session for the Monaco Grand Prix, closely followed by teammate Rubens Barrichello. The Ferrari duo held the one-two all through the session, Schumacher's best of ...
Michael Schumacher claimed provisional pole position in the Thursday qualifying session for the Monaco Grand Prix, closely followed by teammate Rubens Barrichello. The Ferrari duo held the one-two all through the session, Schumacher's best of 1:16.305 three-tenths of a second ahead of Barrichello. BAR's Jenson Button was third fastest.
In championship standings order, McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen took to the track to start the first group of five and set a 1:17.926, a second down on Mark Webber's fastest in the practice session. Michael Schumacher was up on the Finn in all three sectors and took provisional pole over a second better. Ferrari teammate Rubens Barrichello was third out, quicker again in sectors one and two but losing out in the third to slot in behind Schumacher.
Fernando Alonso was comparatively slow after his pace in practice and was two seconds down on Schumacher to go fourth in the Renault. David Coulthard completed the group, the McLaren slow initially but speeding up to go third fastest, seven-tenths off pole.
Ralf Schumacher started the second group for Williams, his time matching Coulthard's almost exactly save for dropping a tenth in sector two. He slotted into fourth and was followed by teammate Juan Pablo Montoya. The Colombian was quicker than Ralf in the first and third sectors but he too dropped a tenth in the middle, putting him fifth.
Giancarlo Fisichella, who showed a lot of pace in the morning practice, was next and had a good lap that put the Jordan fifth, splitting the Williams pair. Jarno Trulli in the second Renault followed his compatriot and shot up behind the Ferraris, third fastest and half a second behind Barrichello. Button, who fought at the front in practice, was last of the group and snatched third from Trulli by a mere hundredth.
Heinz-Harald Frentzen kicked off the third group but the Sauber coasted to a halt just after he crossed the line to start his flying lap. It appeared to be mechanical failure and the session was red-flagged so the car could be removed. Mark Webber aborted his out lap and returned to the pits to wait for a clear track.
After a ten minute delay Webber finally got his flying lap but never really regained his momentum, going ninth in the Jaguar. BAR's Jacques Villeneuve was off the pace on his lap -- it seemed the track had slowed since Frentzen's mishap -- and set the eleventh fastest time. Cristiano da Matta was the first Toyota out and was a second down over every sector, finishing 13th and over four seconds off pole. Nick Heidfeld was last and improved on the rest of his group to go tenth in the second Sauber.
The final group began with Jordan's Ralph Firman. He was reasonable at first but had a poor middle sector, then picked up in the third to go 13th. Jaguar's Antonio Pizzonia ran a cautious lap to take fifteenth and the second Toyota of Olivier Panis was almost three seconds off the pace in the middle sector. The Frenchman managed 16th ahead of teammate da Matta.
The Minardis wound up the session, starting with Jos Verstappen. The Dutchman was on a par with Panis then upped the pace in the final sector to take 16th ahead of both Toyotas. Justin Wilson matched Verstappen very well, slotting into seventeenth just two tenths behind him -- adding insult to injury as far as Toyota is concerned.
Ferrari stamped its authority on the session, which was no real surprise, but what happened behind the two scarlet cars was much more interesting. Button carried his charge from practice through to qualifying and Trulli and Coulthard were not too shabby either.
Ralf was a big improvement from the morning session and Fisichella a very good seventh. Alonso was disappointing down in 14th -- an inexplicable drop after his earlier pace. Raikkonen was also disappointing, outside the top ten, but ultimately the first qualifying session has little bearing on what happens on Saturday. However, the track improves as each session goes on so those at the front today could be roughly the same come Saturday.
As dismaying as it must be for Toyota, Minardi is noteworthy for having displayed a fair bit more bravado than usual, both in practice and qualifying. Final top eight classification: M. Schumacher, Barrichello, Button, Trulli, Coulthard, R. Schumacher, Fisichella, Montoya.