Juan Pablo Montoya made it a hat trick today by taking his third successive pole position, ahead of Williams team mate Ralf Schumacher in the qualifying session of the European Grand Prix. Ralf had held pole for some time before Montoya managed to...
Juan Pablo Montoya made it a hat trick today by taking his third successive pole position, ahead of Williams team mate Ralf Schumacher in the qualifying session of the European Grand Prix. Ralf had held pole for some time before Montoya managed to shave nine one hundredths of a second off the time, setting a 1:29.906 to go fastest.
In sunny but slightly overcast conditions the track temperature fluctuated around 25C but it was good enough for the Michelin runners. McLaren set the early pace with Kimi Raikkonen taking provisional pole and David Coulthard second but the Williams' soon overturned that as Ralf set a 1:30.560, half a second faster.
Ferrari had Rubens Barrichello second fastest but Michael Schumacher had a problem with his race car and took to the spare. His first flying lap put him seventh and although he improved to third, Ferrai just couldn't match the Williams', Barrichello ending up fourth.
McLaren slipped from their initial form and took the third row of the grid while Renault had a good session, Jenson Button and Jarno Trulli occupying the fourth row. Jordan suffered, Giancarlo Fisichella had bad understeer and was way down the times and Takuma Sato outside the top ten. Sauber too seemed lacking, Nick Hedifeld ninth and Felipe Massa eleventh.
Toyota put in a good effort, Mika Salo tenth and Allan McNish in thirteenth, which must be pleasing for the team's first qualifying at their home race. BAR did not see any improvement from the new Honda engines and Jaguar could only struggle on with the same dismal performance they have had recently. Arrows were also off the pace at the Nurburgring and Minardi lurked at the back as usual.
While most of the field had an uneventful qualifying, it was the top four teams who provided the interest. Button was as high as fourth at one point and the McLaren pair traded times often. Ferrari certainly didn't seem off the pace but the front row remained elusive for them today.
In the last two minutes all twenty two cars were out on track and drivers were backing off in an attempt to find some track space to put in a flying lap. No-one seemed to get particularly held up but the Williams' proved to be unbeatable.
The circuit proved kind to the Michelin tyres, only three Bridgestone runners in the top ten but the Bridgestones do seem to have the edge with reliability in races. Despite some drivers expressing a dislike of the new first corner layout of the circuit, it didn't present any problems and generally it was an unremarkable qualifying session. Final top six classification: Montoya, R. Schumacher, M. Schumacher, Barrichello, Coulthard, Raikkonen.