Ralf Schumacher set the best result of the Michelin drivers. Ferrari secured its fourth pole position in five races this year during qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix - and world championship leader Michael Schumacher had to fight hard once...
Ralf Schumacher set the best result of the Michelin drivers.
Ferrari secured its fourth pole position in five races this year during qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix - and world championship leader Michael Schumacher had to fight hard once again to beat off the challenge of his team-mate Rubens Barrichello. Both drivers opted to use just three of their allocated four qualifying runs. Barrichello held the upper hand initially but Schumacher fought back to lap in 1m 16.384s, 0.326s quicker than the Brazilian.
It is his third pole position of the season, the 46th o f his career and Ferrari's 152nd since the world championship began in 1950. Schumacher's fastest lap was 1.9 seconds quicker than he managed when setting pole at the corresponding race last season. Ralf Schumacher (BMW WilliamsF1 Team/Michelin) finished t hird.
Michelin drivers performed strongly and took six of the top 10 positions. The Williams-BMWs of Ralf Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya head the pursuit of Ferrari, in third and fourth places. Montoya has struggled to balance his chassis this weekend, but he pulled out all the stops on his final run to join his team-mate on row two of the grid.
"The team did a great job avernight, changing my car quite a lot, which allowed us to improve sensibily. We are pretty happy with Michelin tyres and I think they look in good shape for tomorrow." Ralf said. McLaren-Mercedes team-mates Kimi Räikkönen and David Coulthard will line up fifth and seventh while the Renaults of Jenson Button and Jarno Trulli are sixth and 10th respectively.
Eddie Irvine (Jaguar, 15th) led the remaining Michelin drivers, ahead of Pedro de la Rosa (Jaguar, 17th), Mika Salo (Toyota, 18th), Allan McNish (Toyota, 20th), Mark Webber (KL Minardi-Asiatech, 21st) and Alex Yoong (KL Minardi Asiatech, 22nd). McNish was able to continue without much delay after spinning into the pit lane entrance on his second run. His car glanced the tyre barriers but was not damaged. Minardi drivers Webber and Yoong have had a troubled day. Webber suffered a broken front wing after clipping a kerb during the morning's final free practice session and Yoong had a similar problem this afternoon. The session had to be interrupted briefly to allow debris from the incident to be swept clear.
Michelin's - day Pierre Dupasquier (Motorsport Director)
Your rivals at Ferrari remain hard to beat but you must be quite pleased with the progress your partner teams made today, with four cars in the top six and six in the top 10?
"Absolutely. We can see that Williams-BMW has worked incredibly hard to raise its game as the weekend has gone on, we knew the McLarens would be quick and Jenson Button was always confident that he could set a good qualifying time. He has been very fast th roughout the weekend."
Was today's performance about as good as you could have expected?
"I think so. We are becoming a little bit accustomed to the Ferraris being out of reach, but some of our partner teams have made good progress since yesterday and I think we are in pretty good shape for the race. You know that qualifying and race are diffe rent exercises."
Will we see both types of Michelin tyre - primary (A) and option (B) - in the race tomorrow? If so, what are the differences between them?
"Yes, both will be used. They are quite similar compounds, but you would expect that at Barcelona because the nature of the track dictates that you can't attempt anything too radical. You have to produce tyres that are durable."
Do you expect this to be a two-stop race?
"Logically, yes. All simulations say that this is the best option, because if you carry too much fuel the extra weight tends to have a particularly adverse effect on lap times - more so than at some other circuits."
Are you using completely fresh tyre compounds this weekend or are they based on some you have used before?
"They are new, but some elements are similar to those seen on tyres we ran in Brazil and San Marino."