M. SCHUMACHER EARNS POLE FOR FERRARI IN USGP QUALIFYING INDIANAPOLIS, Saturday, July 1, 2006 - Michael Schumacher scored his fourth career pole at the United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis in his Ferrari with a lap of 1 minute, 10.832...
M. SCHUMACHER EARNS POLE FOR FERRARI IN USGP QUALIFYING
INDIANAPOLIS, Saturday, July 1, 2006 - Michael Schumacher scored his fourth career pole at the United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis in his Ferrari with a lap of 1 minute, 10.832 seconds, 132.393 mph in qualifying July 1.
Schumacher previously swept the pole for the United States Grand Prix at the 2.605-mile IMS road course from 2000-02.
The shootout for the pole was furious in the final minutes of the qualifying session, as Mild Seven Renault F1 Team driver Giancarlo Fisichella, his teammate, Fernando Alonso, and Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello of the Lucky Strike Honda Racing F1 Team all briefly had the pole until Schumacher posted the triumphant lap.
American Scott Speed qualified a solid 13th in his Scuderia Toro Rosso. The United States Grand Prix starts at 1 p.m. (ET) Sunday, July 2.
Schumacher's time was .603 of a second faster than teammate Felipe Massa, who put his Ferrari in the second-place starting position after posting a lap of 1:11.435. This is the third all-Ferrari front row in USGP history at Indianapolis. Schumacher and Barrichello also put Ferrari on the front row in 2002 and 2004.
"We've been very strong all weekend long," Schumacher said. "Very consistent, had a good pace, in general. I'm very surprised about the amount. To be almost a second, or something like that, ahead of the rest is a lot. But it shows that when the package works, we can be extremely strong.
"We have been suffering a little bit in the last races where things didn't work out so well. But here on this circuit, everything just matches perfectly. In all means, we are quick, so I wouldn't be surprised if we have a good chance to win tomorrow."
Fisichella qualified third today with a lap of 1:11.920. Barrichello gave the Lucky Strike Honda team, which has been disappointed with its results this season, a boost with a fourth-place qualifying effort of 1:12.109.
Reigning Formula One World Champion Alonso will start fifth in his Mild Seven Renault car after posting a quick time of 1:12.449, ending his five-race streak of pole positions.
"I did the maximum I could today, so hopefully our strategy will be good for us tomorrow," Alonso said. "We had an understeering car all morning, and we weren't able to get rid of it for qualifying. For tomorrow, I'll have to wait for the podium and try to limit the damage to the championship."
Formula One drivers with connections to the United States had mixed results with F1's new qualifying format. This year, the six slowest cars are eliminated from qualifying competition after the first 15 minutes. Six more cars are eliminated following another 15-minute session, and the 10 remaining cars go for the pole in a 20-minute shootout.
1995 Indianapolis 500 winner Jacques Villeneuve made the final segment of qualifying and will start sixth in his BMW Sauber F1 Team entry.
2000 Indianapolis 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya narrowly missed the final session, qualifying 11th in his Team McLaren Mercedes car, while Speed, a native of Manteca, Calif., was quite happy with his 13th-place qualifying result.
"It's really good for us," Speed said. "Qualifying here is got to be our worst part because of our engine package, and I've got to feel we'll be strong in the race. Where we qualified is the best it possibly could have gone, for sure. The track is so slippery, and the cars are sliding around so much. It's difficult to find a mechanical balance. The whole team did a great job today, that's for sure."
2006 USGP tickets: Tickets are on sale for the 2006 United States Grand Prix, scheduled for Sunday, July 2.
Fans can order tickets online at www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com, by calling the IMS ticket office at (317) 492-6700 or (800) 822-INDY outside the Indianapolis area, or at the ticket office at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Parking and camping information also can be obtained through the ticket office.
Hours for phone orders and the ticket office are 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (ET) Monday-Friday, while online orders can be made at any time.
A three-day "Season Pass" for the event is only $60. The pass is good for admission to IMS for all three days of on-track activity, Friday, June 30-Sunday, July 2. All seating Friday and Saturday is general admission, and the pass provides general admission access to the Viewing Mounds, Infield, First Turn Terrace, South Terrace and Tower Terrace (Sections 39-77) on Sunday, July 2.
Reserved seats for Race Day, Sunday, July 2, start at $75.