Monaco GP: Michelin Saturday qualifying notes

MICHELIN DOMINATES QUALIFYING Inspired Schuey Jnr takes second career pole; Bibendum locks out first two rows Ralf Schumacher put in a searing 1m 15.259s lap to annex the second pole position of his Formula One career during a tight qualifying...

MICHELIN DOMINATES QUALIFYING
Inspired Schuey Jnr takes second career pole; Bibendum locks out first two rows

Ralf Schumacher put in a searing 1m 15.259s lap to annex the second pole position of his Formula One career during a tight qualifying session in Monaco. Less than one second covered the fastest nine cars and the German outpaced fellow Michelin driver -- and world championship leader -- Kimi Räikkönen (McLaren-Mercedes) by just 0.036 seconds.

"I must say thanks to the whole team for the great job they have done and also to Michelin for their tyres which seem to be very consistent here." said Ralf.

Michelin drivers dominated proceedings: Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams-BMW) and Jarno Trulli (Renault) qualified third and fourth and there were eight Michelin cars in the top ten.

Of the other Michelin runners, David Coulthard set the pace during the morning's final free practice session but was only sixth fastest this afternoon, just behind world champion Michael Schumacher (Ferrari).

Fernando Alonso (Renault/Michelin, eighth) clipped the circuit's unyielding barriers several times prior to qualifying, but kept his nose clean when it mattered. As has become customary this season, Mark Webber did a smooth, efficient job for Jaguar to qualify ninth. His team-mate Antonio Pizzonia came close to brushing the guardrail at Ste Devote but recovered to qualify 13th.

Cristiano da Matta (Toyota/Michelin, 10th) only gained his first experience of the Monaco track last Thursday. He has acclimatised steadily -- and effectively -- to the principality's streets, however. He lost a little time when he locked his front brakes at Ste Devote, but otherwise he put together an impressively neat lap to outpace team-mate Olivier Panis (18th), who scored the only F1 win of his career here in 1996.

B*A*R-Honda driver Jenson Button did not take part in the session. The Englishman crashed heavily during the morning's final free practice session after losing control on the fastest part of the track, between the tunnel and the harbour chicane He suffered no physical injuries but was detained in hospital for observation. A decision on his fitness to race will be taken tomorrow morning.

Michelin's day: Pierre Dupasquier -- Michelin Motorsport Director

BIBENDUM'S HAPPY HOUR
Michelin dominated qualifying for the 2003 Monaco Grand Prix, seventh round of this year's FIA Formula One World Championship. Ralf Schumacher took pole position -- the second of his career and a first this season for the BMW WilliamsF1 Team. He beat fellow Michelin driver Kimi Räikkönen (West McLaren-Mercedes) by just 0.036 seconds. Michelin drivers took the first four places on the grid -- and all but two of the top ten.

The company's motorsport director Pierre Dupasquier said: "It is very satisfying that our five partner teams all have at least one car in the top 10. Tyres are the only thing they have in common and their collective performance proves we have developed very effective products for Monaco. I would also like to compliment Ralf, BMW and Williams: it is nice to see them bounce back."

CLOSE ENCOUNTERS
Michelin's partner teams have chosen to use two of the four available dry-weather options in tomorrow's race -- assuming it doesn't rain. Pierre Dupasquier: "Some of our partners prefer subtle differences in certain areas, but the two types of tyre that will be used tomorrow are incredibly similar in most respects -- including consistency, wear rate and speed."

FEAST OF ENDURANCE
David Coulthard and McLaren-Mercedes won the 2002 Monaco GP on Michelin tyres, but Pierre Dupasquier anticipates a different type of high-level performance this season. He said: "Last year David controlled the race immaculately from the front -- but he had to moderate his pace according to tyre performance. Last year our tyres were quick for a few laps, but then there was a slight performance drop-off before the rubber came back in again."

"This year we have achieved an even better level of performance and combined that with improved consistency. The tyres are perhaps at their peak on their first flying lap, but during testing we have consistently managed runs of 20-plus laps without any significant deterioration. What's more, the long runs we have completed this weekend have been very consistent."

-michelin-

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Ferrari , Mercedes , McLaren , Williams