French GP: Bridgestone Saturday notes

Tense battle for pole The final few minutes of qualifying turned into a tense waiting game with half a second separating six drivers, each with one flying lap left. The ultimate winner in the battle for pole position was Juan Pablo Montoya, but...

Tense battle for pole

The final few minutes of qualifying turned into a tense waiting game with half a second separating six drivers, each with one flying lap left. The ultimate winner in the battle for pole position was Juan Pablo Montoya, but Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro drivers Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello were just fractions of a second behind. Sauber Petronas's Nick Heidfeld in 10th place led a close group of drivers on Bridgestone tyres.

Cars were on the track for virtually the full hour-long session, with OrangeArrows drivers Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Enrique Bernoldi the first to run. They completed just three laps each out of the 12 permitted but their times were not within the time required for them to qualify for tomorrow's race. Meanwhile, Giancarlo Fisichella did not take part in qualifying following a heavy shunt in the second practice session this morning. Although he was given the all-clear by the FIA medical team, he was advised not to drive in qualifying. The DHL Jordan Honda team will apply for permission to allow him to race tomorrow.

Ross Brawn, technical director, Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro

"Obviously we would have liked to have had pole position but I hope we can continue the tradition of the last few races and win tomorrow. Pole seems to be eluding us at the moment but Michael put in a good lap at the end and was almost there. He tries 100 per cent on every lap. We did not get the car quite right for qualifying because we save the tyres on a Saturday morning but then find that we do not have the car quite right by the afternoon. It is a race where strategy is important - we won last year because we had a better strategy - and there will be opportunities."

Hisao Suganuma, technical manager, Bridgestone Motorsport

"Unfortunately a pattern seems to be emerging whereby our cars just miss out on pole, and of course that is a shame. However, the pattern in the last few races has been for one of our cars to win, so I hope that trend continues tomorrow. With regard to our long distance performance, based on the data from practice yesterday and this morning I am confident that we will be competitive tomorrow. Both our new specifications will be used in the race and we have suffered no significant problems with either of them so far this weekend."

-bridgestone-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Giancarlo Fisichella , Enrique Bernoldi , Michael Schumacher , Heinz-Harald Frentzen , Rubens Barrichello , Nick Heidfeld , Ross Brawn
Teams Ferrari , Sauber , Jordan