Motorsport.com - Michael Schumacher stole the thunder from Mika Hakkinen in the Finn's penultimate qualifying session for McLaren-Mercedes, taking the pole position at the US Grand Prix with a lap of 1:11.708, a clear 0.237 ahead of Hakkinen, in...
Motorsport.com - Michael Schumacher stole the thunder from Mika Hakkinen in the Finn's penultimate qualifying session for McLaren-Mercedes, taking the pole position at the US Grand Prix with a lap of 1:11.708, a clear 0.237 ahead of Hakkinen, in spite of only using nine of his allotted 12 laps.
"I thought I had achieved the maximum, with no mistakes," the elder Schumacher quoted after claiming his tenth pole position of the year for Ferrari. "It was not worth it to go out again."
Hakkinen, a longtime McLaren driver, on the other hand, has 26 career poles, but has been shut out from the top qualifying position since the Belgian Grand Prix last year.
Hakkinen had claimed the pole from Schumacher midway through the session, with a clean lap that claimed the provisional first spot with a margin of just two-thousandths of a second.
However, when Schumacher came out for his third run, he was marginally faster through the tight infield section -- but then claimed the pole back by taking a shocking further 0.2 seconds off Hakkinen's final section time, proving the superior power of the Ferrari engine on the high-speed oval section.
Schumacher's younger brother Ralf took third, beating his Williams-BMW teammate Juan Pablo Montoya by three tenths, in a session where the Williams-Michelin combination never quite looked completely comfortable.
Still, the Williams drivers managed to stay ahead of the second Ferrari of Rubens Barrichello.
Worse yet was the day for David Coulthard, who was more than half a second off the time of his teammate Hakkinen, and mired in seventh on the grid, also behind the Sauber-Petronas of Nick Heidfeld.
"I was suffering from oversteer," said the Scot. "It was better in the afternoon, but it was pulling the car off the track."
The end of the session was punctuated by the only incidents of the day: a high-speed spin at the end of the Hulman straight by Prost rookie driver Tomas Enge, and a scattering of bodywork on the track from Giancarlo Fisichella's car, as the Benetton's engine cover disintegrated on the high-speed start-finish straight.