Williams drivers Juan Pablo Montoya and Ralf Schumacher dominated qualifying for the German Grand Prix to give Michelin its second pole position of the season. There was little to separate the two team-mates. Schumacher held the advantage after...
Williams drivers Juan Pablo Montoya and Ralf Schumacher dominated qualifying for the German Grand Prix to give Michelin its second pole position of the season. There was little to separate the two team-mates. Schumacher held the advantage after the first run, but Montoya hit back to lap in 1m 38.119s - just 0.019 seconds ahead of his team-mate. Schumacher was unable to improve on either of his final two runs and Montoya thus took the first pole position of his F1 career.
It is the first time Williams has locked out the front row of an F1 grid since the British GP at Silverstone in 1997.
Montoya said: "It feels great and this is a reward for my whole crew, who have worked so hard. It was a very close fight with Ralf and we clearly have a very good car this weekend. I'm surprised at how big an advantage we had during qualifying, but I'm very happy."
Schumacher added: "It is a slight disappointment not to be on pole for my home race, but I have never been anywhere near the pole at Hockenheim before, so it is pleasing to be on the front row."
This year's British GP winner Mika Hakkinen (McLaren-Mercedes) was third fastest, more than half a second behind the Williams drivers. World championship leader Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) was fourth ahead of David Coulthard (McLaren-Mercedes) and Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari).
Pedro de la Rosa (Jaguar Racing, 9th) was third fastest Michelin qualifier, two places ahead of team-mate Eddie Irvine. Jean Alesi (Prost-Acer) was 14th after a spectacular qualifying run during which he put a couple of wheels on the grass. His team-mate Luciano Burti was 16th, but the Brazilian's last-ditch effort to improve his time ended when he spun into the barriers coming through the stadium section of the track.
Of the other Michelin runners, Giancarlo Fischella (Benetton Renault Sport) was 17th, Jenson Button (Benetton Renault Sport) 18th, Fernando Alonso (European Minardi) 21st and Tarso Marques (European Minardi) 22nd.
MICHELIN'S RACE :
Pierre Dupasquier (Motorsport Director) :
This is the first all-Michelin front row since Nelson Piquet and Alain Prost qualified first and second for the 1984 Portuguese GP. Satisfied?
"Of course. Since yesterday we have shown that the chemistry we have between our tyres and the BMW WilliamsF1 Team's chassis and engine makes for a particularly competitive package at this track. This morning we noticed that the team's aerodynamic set-up, with relatively mild downforce, was appropriate. It allowed our tyres to perform at maximum efficiency and produce a great result. With different aero settings we might not have had such a productive day."
All you partner teams seemed happy with tyre choice yesterday. Did today match their expectations?
"Some of them perhaps didn't meet their targets, but that is possibly because qualifying is not their strong point. Only the most powerful teams are able to create a car that is competitive in such situations. They are the most experienced and have the best drivers. I think lap times will close up again in the race, however."
What about your tyre options?
"Both of them will be used in the race tomorrow. Their performance is similar, but the wear rates are different. I don't know if their respective characteristics will allow teams to use different race strategies. We are very familiar with one of these tyres, but the other is new. We will only know its true potential at the end of the race. It is all part of our learning curve."
Tomorrow, some teams will be tempted to reduce their wing settings for the race. Might that affect tyre performance?
"Of course it will, because less wing means less downforce and so the cars slide around more, which causes tyre wear to increase. But low wings won't be the only thing that influence a car's ability to overtake on the straights during tomorrow's race."