Michael Schumacher started 2004 off for Ferrari where the team left off last year: on pole position. "The team has done a fantastic job," expressed Schumacher. "This car has got great potential which it showed straight out of the box. I had a...
Michael Schumacher started 2004 off for Ferrari where the team left off last year: on pole position.
"The team has done a fantastic job," expressed Schumacher. "This car has got great potential which it showed straight out of the box. I had a very good feeling with it today. I am not surprised to be on pole here, as historically we have always gone very well here in Melbourne."
"On my second run, I pushed as hard as I could," commented a satisfied Barrichello on his starting position. "It was a very good lap, even if Michael went a little bit quicker. I am a happy guy and while I am second today, I would like to go one better tomorrow."
Schumacher had been bested by Juan Pablo Montoya in the first Saturday qualifying session, the Colombian having taken the provisional pole with a time of 1:25.225, 0.075 seconds ahead of the defending champion.
However, in the second session, Montoya made what seemed like a small mistake, but that cost him dearly, and he ended up on the timing sheets with a 1:24.998, more than half a second behind Schumacher.
"I was a bit surprised at the first qualifying, I was amazed at the lap time," Montoya recalled. "But I tried a bit too hard through the fast chicane in the second session, I went in too fast and it understeered in the right-hander. It was a bit of a shame, but I was just trying."
Jenson Button pulled off an outstanding performance for BAR with a fourth-place grid position, next to Montoya, having set a time that matched the Williams driver. Button's first-session time was slower, though, so Montoya claimed the inside spot on the second row.
Fernando Alonso took fifth for Renault with a 1:25.699, with local favorite Mark Webber (Jaguar) in sixth with a time of 1:25.805.
McLaren's start to the season seemed somewhat promising in the first qualifying, with Kimi Raikkonen in fourth and David Coulthard in fifth. However, in the second session both drivers made mistakes, with Raikkonen ending up in 10th and Coulthard 12th.
Tomorrow's race will be the first with the new single-engine rule; it will be highly instructive to see which of the manufacturers have got their equations balanced right between performance and endurance.
Michael expressed his thoughts on the new rule, "The new engine rule has not affected us too much and that is down to a good job of preparation in terms of extending reliability while improving power. This result proves what a fantastic job everyone back in the factory has done over the winter, but it's going to be a tough season."