Juan Pablo Montoya was the pacesetter in Friday's qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix, the Williams driver clocking a best of 1:20.656 ahead of Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello. Michael Schumacher followed in third and Toyota's Cristiano da Matta...
Juan Pablo Montoya was the pacesetter in Friday's qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix, the Williams driver clocking a best of 1:20.656 ahead of Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello. Michael Schumacher followed in third and Toyota's Cristiano da Matta beat the other usual front runners to a good fourth place.
McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen, the third of the top championship contenders, was unsettled and off Montoya's pace by over second to go third. Ralf Schumacher was fractionally faster than Raikkonen but went straight across the first chicane and his time was disallowed. Fernando Alonso was the first Renault out and his lap was marred by a trip through the gravel in the second sector, leaving him fifth.
Barrichello started the second group of five and had two very good sectors but dropped back slightly in the third to go second fastest, just over a tenth behind Montoya. David Coulthard couldn't do better than teammate Raikkonen and finished sixth, nearly two and a half seconds off provisional pole.
Jarno Trulli bettered teammate Alonso by about a tenth to go one ahead of the Spaniard in fifth. Mark Webber had a very fast third sector, which put the Jaguar driver on an identical time to Raikkonen. The Finn held fourth place as he set the time first, so Webber took fifth from Trulli. Last man of the group, BAR's Jenson Button had a reasonable effort to get himself ahead of Coulthard for eighth.
Giancarlo Fisichella commenced the next group, the Jordan having the slowest first sector and although he picked up slightly it was only good enough for tenth. Cristiano da Matta matched the front runners with his first sector and although the rest was not so quick, it was enough for fourth. A great effort by the Toyota driver.
Heinz-Harald Frentzen was the first Sauber out and also made a good effort, despite a messy first sector, and posted ninth fastest. Olivier Panis couldn't match the pace of teammate da Matta, an untidy last sector putting him ninth. Last of the group, Jacques Villeneuve slotted in behind Button for twelfth.
Nick Heidfeld launched the final five and managed twelfth, three places behind Frentzen but better than Villeneuve and Coulthard. Jos Verstappen was due out next but he had some kind of electronic problem with the Minardi and failed to leave the pits. The second Jaguar of Justin Wilson had a challenge on his hands to match teammate Webber in fourth and didn't get anywhere near. A disappointing fifteenth for Wilson, who had some mistakes in the second sector.
Nicolas Kiesa managed to get his Minardi out on track and posted eighteenth, over five seconds off pole. Final man of the session was Zsolt Baumgartner, deputising for the still-recovering Ralph Firman. Jordan's Hungarian test driver matched Fisichella in sector one but was down by half a second in two. He still managed to better Kiesa, by over a second, and posted seventeenth behind Fisichella.
No big surprises in the first qualifying: Coulthard was well off the pace of the front runners and da Matta did well in fourth but Toyota usually do run well on a Friday. Ralf Schumacher and Jos Verstappen will be out first tomorrow after failing to set a time today. As in the morning practice, Michelin outdid the Bridgestone runners by seven to three in the top ten. Final top eight classification: Montoya, Barrichello, M. Schumacher, da Matta, Raikkonen, Webber, Trulli, Alonso.