Juan Pablo Montoya notched up the third pole position of his Formula 1 career and a fourth of the season for the BMW WilliamsF1 Team and Michelin during qualifying session for the Italian Grand Prix. The Colombian improved steadily throughout the...
Juan Pablo Montoya notched up the third pole position of his Formula 1 career and a fourth of the season for the BMW WilliamsF1 Team and Michelin during qualifying session for the Italian Grand Prix. The Colombian improved steadily throughout the hour and lapped in 1m 22.216s on the third of his four runs. Just before Montoya was due to begin his final run, the session had to be interrupted because former world champion Mika Hakkinen (McLaren-Mercedes) crashed heavily. The session restarted with little more than four minutes remaining, but drivers were unable to improve their lap times.
"My car was really good," Montoya said. "We worked very hard to get it right in this morning's final free practice and we hardly had to touch it at all during qualifying."
The Ferraris of Rubens Barrichello and Michael Schumacher will start second and third. It is only the second time in their time together that the Brazilian has qualified faster than his world champion team-mate. Ralf Schumacher (BMW WilliamsF1 Team) lines up fourth fastest, in front of Jarno Trulli (Jordan-Honda) and David Coulthard (McLaren-Mercedes).
Pedro de la Rosa (Jaguar Racing, 10th) headed the remaining Michelin drivers, ahead of Jenson Button (Mild Seven Benetton Renault Sport, 11th), Heinz-Harald Frentzen (Prost-Acer, 12th), Eddie Irvine (Jaguar Racing, 13th) and Giancarlo Fisichella (Benetton Renault Sport). De la Rosa has outqualified team-mate Irvine for the last five races. For Button, this marks his best qualifying performance of the season.
It was a difficult day for the two F1 newcomers, both of whom are running on Michelin tyres. Tomas Enge (Prost-Acer) had two of three qualifying runs ruined by technical problems, but his one clean lap earned him 20th place on the grid. Alex Yoong (European Minardi) was denied any track time during the morning's free practice, because of car trouble, and his Minardi broke down again shortly after he left the pits at the start of qualifying. Using the spare chassis, he returned to the track and qualified 22nd fastest. The Malaysian's team-mate Fernando Alonso had to share a chassis with Yoong after his car also broke down within moments of him taking to the track. The Spaniard lines up in 21st place.
Pierre Dupasquier, Motorsport Director:
How do you feel about Michelin's performance in general today?
"It would be disingenuous to pretend that we haven't done a good job and I would like to congratulate Juan Pablo Montoya on taking his third pole position in the last four races. The only disappointment, however, is that we don't quite understand what happened to Ralf, who was apparently unable to get the best from his chassis. He didn't feel wholly comfortable today and we must investigate the cause. We are not worried about the level of our performance, however, because Juan Pablo is on pole."
Did yesterday evening's showers affect the track at all?
"Hugely. This morning's free practice took place on a track that was grippy, but very abrasive. It has subsequently become easier on tyres, however."
Did it help that it was hotter for qualifying than it was for free practice?
"Not at all. We would have been competitive no matter what track conditions were like. As far as tomorrow's weather is concerned, we expect the race to take place in even warmer temperatures and that doesn't worry us in the slightest."
Which drivers chose the primary (A) tyres and which chose the option (B)?
"Both kinds will be used in the race tomorrow. Those who have chosen the softer compound will have to keep a close eye on tyre temperatures: given Monza's characteristics, softer tyres could certainly offer better grip, but there is a risk that they will blister more quickly. Everything will depend on how heavy cars are, how they are set up at the start and how aggressively they are driven. Some teams could start with a high fuel load and attempt to cover about three-quarters of the distance before making their one and only stop. You have to bear that kind of thing in mind."
Are your two compounds well suited to this weekend's conditions?
"We will have to see how we get along in the race, obviously, but so far we are very happy with the way things have gone. All our partner teams seem to have made progress this weekend."