Schumacher Jnr and Montoya lead Michelin charge as battle to beat Ferrari hots up in Italy. World champion Michael Schumacher did enough to clinch the 52nd pole position of his career during final qualifying for tomorrow's San Marino Grand Prix...
Schumacher Jnr and Montoya lead Michelin charge as battle to beat Ferrari hots up in Italy.
World champion Michael Schumacher did enough to clinch the 52nd pole position of his career during final qualifying for tomorrow's San Marino Grand Prix but it was a close call. The Ferrari driver was just 0.014s faster than younger brother Ralf, who was fastest of six Michelin drivers in the top 10. It was a terrific recovery by the younger Schumacher, who crashed heavily during the morning's final free practice session and seriously damaged his original Williams chassis. He used the team's spare car for qualifying.
Rubens Barrichello (Ferrari) was third, ahead of second BMW WilliamsF1 Team driver Juan Pablo Montoya. On another positive day for Michelin, Australian Mark Webber continued the stunning form he showed in Brazil and qualified his Jaguar fifth. His team-mate Antonio Pizzonia did not have such a good day, however. His lap was compromised by a moment at one of the chicanes, when he rode high over a kerb, got slightly sideways and scrubbed off some vital speed. He will start tomorrow's race 15th.
For the first time since Monza last year, Kimi Räikkönen (McLaren-Mercedes/Michelin) had the upper hand on team-mate David Coulthard (12th) in qualifying. Despite a major wobble as he exited the Variante Alta chicane, the Finn will line up sixth.
Renault knew ahead of this weekend that Imola would not suit its Michelin-shod chassis as well as the first three races but Fernando Alonso (eighth) maintained his run of eye-catching form by lapping one second faster than team-mate Jarno Trulli (16th). Michelin's fifth partner team Toyota hopes it has cured the fuel pick-up problem that plagued the team in the first three races of the season. Its drivers Olivier Panis and Cristiano da Matta will, start 10th and 13th respectively.
For the first time this season qualifying was red-flagged because of an accident. Dutchman Jos Verstappen emerged unhurt after crashing heavily and damaging his Minardi extensively.
Michelin's day: Pierre Dupasquier Michelin Motorsport Director
SIX OF THE BEST
Ralf Schumacher came within 0.014s of claiming the second Formula One pole position of his career during qualifying for the San Marino Grand Prix. Using his spare Williams-BMW, after an accident in this morning's free practice session, the German was beaten only by his world champion brother Michael. Schumacher Jnr was quickest of six Michelin drivers in the top 10. The company's motorsport director Pierre Dupasquier said: Things were incredibly close today but, as always, we can't be sure which drivers might have 10kg more or less fuel than their rivals and that has a very significant influence on lap times here.
The majority of Michelin's partner teams have chosen to race the same type of dry-weather tyre if the rain holds off tomorrow. Pierre Dupasquier said: This weekend we brought three dry-weather tyre options with us and one has shown itself to be clearly quicker than the others. For the first time this year we are using compounds from the softer end of our range and I have been pleased with the results in terms of both performance and durability. The track has been resurfaced in some areas and wear rates have so far been quite a bit fiercer than we had anticipated, but the track has become progressively less abrasive throughout the weekend and I expect it to be better still tomorrow, if it stays dry.
TALKING OF WHICH
As is customary, Michelin has been keeping in close contact with the meteorological office throughout the race weekend. Pierre Dupasquier said: There is a very significant risk of rain tomorrow but that holds no fears for me. This weekend, we will again be using a rain tyre that proved to be effective during the last tests sessions.