Michael Schumacher hits the front again Defending world champion Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) took his fourth pole position of the season at Spain's Circuit de Catalunya. He dominated the session by lapping almost half a second clear of...
Michael Schumacher hits the front again
Defending world champion Michael Schumacher (Ferrari) took his fourth pole position of the season at Spain's Circuit de Catalunya. He dominated the session by lapping almost half a second clear of his rivals on his first qualifying run and improving slightly on his second. Only McLaren driver Mika Hakkinen was able to get close to the German's pace. He set a time within 0.085s of Schumacher's best in the final moments of the session and pipped team-mate David Coulthard to second spot on the grid. Schumacher had enough time in hand not to use up his full allocation of qualifying runs.
Ralf Schumacher (BMW WilliamsF1 Team) was again fastest of the Michelin runners. The San Marino GP winner was fifth quickest 0.845s slower than his pace-setting older brother. His team-mate Juan Pablo Montoya was a winner at this track during his Formula 3000 days, but he had a difficult time today and qualified only 12th.
Eddie Irvine (Jaguar Racing,13th) got the better of new team-mate Pedro de la Rosa. The Spaniard missed vital track time during the morning's final free practice after a steering problem caused him to crash as he was on his way out of the pit lane. He qualified 20th.
There was better news for former Jaguar Racing driver Luciano Burti, who has switched to the Prost-Acer team. The Brazilian outpaced new team-mate Jean Alesi; they line up 14th and 15th. In his first grand prix on home soil, rising star Fernando Alonso qualified his European Minardi 18th, which not for the first time this season - put him ahead of several more fancied rivals. His team-mate Tarso Marques was 22nd. Mild Seven Benetton Renault Sport drivers Giancarlo Fisichella and Jenson Button were 18th and 21st. The team's Renault engine is in an early stage of its evolution and remains short of power. Button has also been troubled by a shoulder muscle injury that has made him slightly uncomfortable in the cockpit.
Pierre Dupasquier (Motorsport Director):
The fastest Michelin driver is fifth. Are you happy with that?
"Yes and no. Yes because we are once again, with Williams, in touch with the Ferraris and McLarens. No because we were not able to make the kind of progress we had hoped for with the chassi, engine and tyre package. We have become used to fighting for a place on the front row and we hoped to do a bit better."
"Conditions were really very different to yesterday. As things have turned out, Friday's free practice served very little purpose for us."
What's the best option for the race hard or soft tyres?
"Both! Our A compound, the harder of the two, works well. It is quick and durable, so several teams have opted to use it tomorrow. The B compound is perhaps a little faster, but is maybe less hard-wearing. We have not done enough running on full fuel loads to have a clear idea about consistency. That said, some teams are making good use of it and have selected it for the race."
What strategies are feasible tomorrow?
"Our A compound is extremely durable but we aren't too sure how things will work out for those on compound B. Barcelona can be very hard going when cars are running on full tanks. For every 10kg of fuel you lose 0.35-0.40 seconds per lap. It doesn't take much time to make a pit stop here, so a multi-stop race could be advantageous."
Pascal Vasselon (F1 project manager):
Are the tyres you have brought to Barcelona well suited to the track? "We brought one type of tyre that we didn't know much about. They were developed especially for this circuit and there is always a chance that you might have miscalculated. A few teams chose it and that allowed us to see that we had got our sums right. At Barcelona more than anywhere, the track conditions change as the day goes on in terms of both performance and wear rate. These tyres should not cause us any concerns in the race, however."