ALONSO SECURES MICHELIN'S SEVENTH POLE OF THE SEASON Bibendum racers revel in Budapest's fierce heat Fernando Alonso (Renault/Michelin) blitzed his rivals during final qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix. The 22-year-old Spaniard lapped in...
ALONSO SECURES MICHELIN'S SEVENTH POLE OF THE SEASON
Bibendum racers revel in Budapest's fierce heat
Fernando Alonso (Renault/Michelin) blitzed his rivals during final qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix. The 22-year-old Spaniard lapped in 1m 21.688s to take pole by 0.256 seconds. It is the second time this season that he will start from the front of the grid -- and he has done it at a track on which overtaking is traditionally difficult. This season, however, circuit changes have been implemented in an effort to spice up the racing.
Alonso's lap was the cream on a dominant qualifying session for Michelin, whose drivers took nine of the top 12 places. "it is a great feeling to get my second position. Our car has been competitive since the start of the week-end and I don't see any reason why that should change. There is nothing special to say about Michelin tyres, they are working very well and I hope it will be the same until the end of the season." said the Spanish.
Ralf Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya (BMW WilliamsF1 Team) were second and fourth respectively. The Colombian admits this is not his favourite circuit: he has failed to score points here during each of the previous two seasons and this has been his best performance so far in Hungary. "The car felt really goof during today's qualifying. I could have gone quicker than I actually did but after being very fast in sector one I took the conservative way and really paces myself because I wanted to make sure to get a good lap in. I am fighting for the championship especially with Michael, of course, and the most important thing is starting ahead of him, tomorrow." said Juan-Pablo.
Jaguar star Mark Webber will line up third for the second time this year, despite running slightly wide and kicking up the dirt in Turn 11. "His team-mate Justin Wilson secured the best qualifying position of his Formula One career to date. The Englishman bounced back from a problematic opening day -- when he clipped a kerb and ruined his lap -- to post the 12th best time.
Alonso's team-mate Jarno Trulli (sixth) was fastest in the opening session but made a couple of small errors today. Kimi Räikkönen and David Coulthard were seventh and ninth for McLaren-Mercedes. Olivier Panis (Toyota/Michelin) rounded out the top 10, but his team-mate Cristiano da Matta has had a difficult time. After spinning during his first qualifying run, he slid off again during this morning's free practice session and then lost control for a third time during the pre-qualifying warm-up. He put together a clean lap this afternoon but was only 15th.
British driver Ralph Firman won't take part in the race. His Jordan-Ford suffered a rear wing failure in this morning's free practice session and Firman crashed at high speed. He hit the barriers with a force estimated at 46g and suffered bruising and mild concussion. He will remain in hospital overnight but is expected to return to the track in time to watch the race. Local driver Zsolt Baumgartner -- an FIA F3000 racer who has been testing for Jordan -- will take his place. Baumgartner is the first Hungarian to contest a world championship grand prix and he starts 19th.
Michelin's day: Pierre Dupasquier -- Michelin Motorsport Director
Spaniard Fernando Alonso (Renault) secured Michelin's seventh pole position of the season during qualifying for tomorrow's Hungarian Grand Prix. As has become customary in recent Formula One races, Michelin teams dominated the session and took nine of the top 12 grid positions. Ralf Schumacher (BMW WilliamsF1 Team, second), Mark Webber (Jaguar, third), Juan Pablo Montoya (BMW WilliamsF1 Team, fourth), Jarno Trulli (Renault, sixth), Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren-Mercedes, seventh), David Coulthard (McLaren-Mercedes, ninth), Olivier Panis (Toyota, 10th) and Justin Wilson (Jaguar, 12th) are all well placed to challenge for points tomorrow. Michelin motorsport director Piere Dupasquier said: "It is very satisfying to see all five of our partner teams in the top 10. Once again this reflects how well our tyres are performing. When things are going very well, as they did yesterday, you are always concerned that your rivals might have something up their sleeves, but today's result confirms that we have the upper hand."
FAST -- AND CONSISTENT WITH IT
Alonso praised the performanceof his tyres as he sped to the second pole position of his young Formula One career -- and Michelin F1 programme manager Pascal Vasselon emphasised that consistency had been foremost in his engineers' minds as they prepared for Budapest. He said: "This race is a bit like Monaco, because it has always been very difficult to overtake. That makes it vital to qualify at the front, but while you would tend to run an ultra-soft tyre compound you cannot really do that here. A tyre would not survive even a single lap. We initially thought that we might have taken a slightly too conservative approach, but qualifying indicates that our calculations were correct."
SOME LIKE IT HOT
So far, we have no worries in term of wear rate with our two dry-weather compounds but most of our competitors will concentrated on one of them. Pierre Dupasquier said: "You must never be complacent in Formula One and we will be keeping a close eye on track conditions. The circuit evolved substantially between this morning's two free practice sessions but has been reasonably stable since. That said, lots of rubber has now gone down and in track temperatures approaching 50 degrees this can turn into a kind of rubberised jam. It is conceivable that the track will change again tomorrow, but I am confident that we will be in good shape whatever the conditions."