CART champion Juan Pablo Montoya claimed his first Formula One pole position at the German GP with a blistering lap of 1:38.117, beating his Williams-BMW teammate Ralf Schumacher, and clearly outdistancing all others. "It was a good lap," the ...
CART champion Juan Pablo Montoya claimed his first Formula One pole position at the German GP with a blistering lap of 1:38.117, beating his Williams-BMW teammate Ralf Schumacher, and clearly outdistancing all others.
"It was a good lap," the Columbian related modestly. "Ralf ran me pretty close, he did four runs, I did three and my second one went so well. The car was working very well and we did a change for the (third) run and I was two tenths up already on my time and then when Ralf crossed the line they told me to back off."
The younger Schumacher was second, with a time of 1:38.136, only two tenths of a second behind. But in spite of four full qualifying runs, as compared to Montoya's three, he was unable match his teammate.
It appears that the high-speed Hockenheim circuit was the place for Montoya to take full advantage of his experience driving on 220 mph (350 km/h) oval track in CART. Just like tracks at Michigan and Fontana, the German circuit was also baked by a blistering sun, causing high temperatures and heavy tire wear.
With the latest BMW engine, the two Williams drivers dominated the fast sections through the forests, and then Montoya bettered Schumacher in the final, twisty, stadium section, with little over 15 minutes left in the session.
As the minutes ticked away, and the top runners got onto the track for the final minutes of qualifying frenzy, Luciano Burti crashed his Prost heavily into a tire wall in the stadium section, bringing out local yellows and slowing down the final flying laps of many runners.
In the end, 1999 world Champion and two-time German GP winner, Mika Hakkinen claimed third place with a time 1:38.811, nearly 0.7 seconds adrift of Montoya, but still comfortably ahead of Championship leader and archrival, Michael Schumacher.
Hakkinen also made do with only two qualifying runs: "We decided to abort the third run and conserve tyres when they realised I was able to hold my third position."
The elder Schumacher, who will be looking to eclipse Alain Prost's mark of career victories on Sunday, was again overshadowed by his brother, and will have to be satisfied with the outside of the second row, with a time of 1:38.941.
"I was hoping to be closer to the quickest times after this morning," said the defending Champion. "However, I prefer to have the Williams eight-tenths in front of me, rather than Coulthard!"
Schumacher's only credible Championship challenger, David Coulthard, was one position further back, the McLaren driver an unlikely 1.5 seconds off the pole, with a time of 1:39.574.
The top five were followed by the second Ferrari of Rubens Barrichello, and the Saubers of Nick Heidfeld and Kimi Raikkonen. Pedro de la Rosa (Jaguar) and Jarno Trulli (Jordan) rounded out the top ten.