Schumacher ahead Austrian GP Friday qualifying

Michael Schumacher topped the times in Friday's qualifying session for the Austrian Grand Prix, the Ferrari driver setting a best of 1:07.908 to take provisional pole position. Teammate Rubens Barrichello was second, a couple of tenths slower and...

Michael Schumacher topped the times in Friday's qualifying session for the Austrian Grand Prix, the Ferrari driver setting a best of 1:07.908 to take provisional pole position. Teammate Rubens Barrichello was second, a couple of tenths slower and Jaguar's Mark Webber was an impressive third.

Kimi Raikkonen opened the session, the McLaren driver leading the championship, and set a time of 1:08.978. Michael Schumacher bettered the Finn over all three sectors of the lap to take provisional pole. Third out was Renault's Fernando Alonso and the Spaniard was slightly off the pace, third fastest and down by 1.7 seconds.

Rubens Barrichello was very quick in the final sector of his lap and took second just two tenths down on Michael. David Coulthard, who was fastest in the earlier practice session, was the last of the first group in the second McLaren. The Scot bettered Raikkonen by a mere four hundredths to go third.

Ralf Schumacher started the second group of five and was up on all but Michael in the first sector. The Williams then spun off; the session was red-flagged while the car was recovered and teammate Juan Pablo Montoya, who was on his out lap, returned to the pits. He went third fastest when the session was restarted.

Giancarlo Fisichella followed Montoya, the Jordan beating Alonso to go sixth despite a slow first sector. Jarno Trulli also beat the Spaniard, putting his Renault seventh. Last man of the group was Sauber's Heinz-Harald Frentzen and was ninth, 2.14 off pole.

Jacques Villeneuve kicked off the third group and put in an great effort to take third, BAR looking strong this weekend. The Canadian was followed by Cristiano da Matta, the Toyota only managing eleventh behind Frentzen. The second BAR of Jenson Button was also on the pace, slotting into fourth behind Villeneuve.

Webber was next out, the Jaguar matching the BARs times in the first sector and improving all the way to take third ahead of Villeneuve. Webber had an absolutely flying final sector and was just a couple of tenths down on Barrichello. Nick Heidfeld completed the group and outdid Sauber teammate Frentzen by two places in eleventh.

Jordan's Ralph Firman started the final group of five and was quicker than team mate Fisichella in the first sector. However, he slid off into the barriers in sector three, red-flagging the session once again and Olivier Panis aborted his out lap. Once back on track, Panis put the Toyota thirteenth, two places ahead of teammate da Matta.

Jos Verstappen was the first Minardi out and set a reasonable first sector time, on a par with the Toyotas. He was down in the other two sectors to take sixteenth. The second Minardi of Justin Wilson was seventeenth and Jaguar's Antonio Pizzonia was the last man out and managed a creditable ninth, half a second off Webber.

Impressive work from BAR and Webber although Williams and McLaren were overly cautious. (Apart from Ralf, who wasn't cautious enough). Firman was given a time, despite his meeting with the barriers, so Ralf will be first on track in tomorrow's qualifying session as he didn't set a time today.

Michael Schumacher was untouchable out front but the top six were all within a second of the Ferrari, although no-one else could get into the 1.07 bracket. Pizzonia appears to have got himself into gear but tomorrow is when it really counts. Final top eight classification: M. Schumacher, Barrichello, Webber, Villeneuve, Button, Montoya, Coulthard, Raikkonen.

Austrian GP: Friday press conference

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Ferrari , Sauber , McLaren , Williams , Minardi , Jordan