SCHUMACHER JNR SPEARHEADS MICHELIN CHALLENGE Ferrari dominated qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix -- and Rubens Barrichello pipped red-hot race favourite Michael Schumacher to pole position by less than one-tenth of a second. It is ...
SCHUMACHER JNR SPEARHEADS MICHELIN CHALLENGE
Ferrari dominated qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix -- and Rubens Barrichello pipped red-hot race favourite Michael Schumacher to pole position by less than one-tenth of a second. It is Barrichello's third pole position of the season and the sixth of his career. Ralf Schumacher (BMW WilliamsF1 Team, third) was fastest of the Clermont-Ferrand company's representatives, less than half a second behind the Ferraris.
Michelin drivers favour the softer of the two available dry-weather compounds this weekend and this worked well in extremely slippery conditions that have caused most of the world's leading drivers to run off the track at least once during the weekend.
There was six Michelin drivers in the top 12 : Ralf Schumacher (BMW Williamsf1 Team, third) headed Juan Pablo Montoya (BMW WilliamsF1 Team, fourth), Jarno Trulli (Renault, sixth), Jenson Button (Renault, ninth), David Coulthard (McLaren-Mercedes, 10th) and Kimi Räikkönen (McLaren-Mercedes, 11th).
Schumacher Jnr failed to complete one of his qualifying laps after skating off the track. Several drivers -- including Barrichello -- had to abort their first runs because Button lost control immediately ahead of them, but the Renault driver was able to recover without hitting anything.
Pedro de la Rosa (Jaguar, 15th) was best of the remaining Michelin runners, from Eddie Irvine (Jaguar, 16th), Mika Salo (Toyota, 17th), Allan McNish (Toyota, 18th), Mark Webber (KL Minardi-Asiatech, 19th) and F1 newcomer Anthony Davidson (KL Minardi-Asiatech, 20th). Davidson has achieved his first target -- qualifying for the race -- and has attracted favourable comments for the way he has handled his grand prix debut. The 23-year-old Englishman lapped within half a second of Webber and has barely put a foot wrong so far.
Michelin's day, Pierre Dupasquier, motorsport director:
You don't have any representatives on the front row this weekend, although Ralf Schumacher (BMW WilliamsF1 Team) was close to the pace of the leading cars. Are you happy with the way things have gone in general?
"Yes, I am. Getting two cars onto the second row is a pretty good result for us and proves that Williams and BMW have done an awful lot of hard work to create a good package. Even after this morning's final free practice, we didn't think we would be this close to the pace. That element of today's performance has been very satisfactory -- and the Renaults have shown a good turn of speed, too. On the flipside, yesterday McLaren-Mercedes was very competitive and we share their sense of disappointment that the things did not turn out that way during the qualifying session."
Have you found a reason for the tyre damage on David Coulthard's McLaren yesterday?
"In fact there was no damage. The tyre was knocked of the rim when he hit the kerb. Sometimes the bead can be on seated like this. When we put pressure back in the tyre it was fine."
Traditionally this is a two-stop race. Have you seen anything to make you think things will be different this time?
"Obviously some teams might take an alternative approach, but the data suggests a two-stop strategy will be quickest. From what we have seen so far we have absolutely no concerns about tyre wear."
Does that mean you have perhaps taken a slightly too conservative approach?
"No, I don't think so. We don't have a problem with tyre wear, but then we don't have much margin for error either. If the track temperature rises tomorrow, which the forecast suggests it might, then the tyre situation is likely to change. We will have to wait and see. Either way, I don't anticipate any problems."
Yesterday your partner teams found your softer, option (B) tyre to be best suited to the conditions. Is that the only compound we will see in tomorrow's race?
"It's safe to say that..."