Schumacher storms to first Pole of the season!


Hungarian GP – Qualifying

Michael Schumacher claimed his 64th career Pole Position, the first of the season, for Ferrari this afternoon in Hungary. The Ferrari star dominated the session, lapping just under nine-tenths of a second faster than anyone else. We knew Ferrari looked strong from the practice times, but the Pole Position is a tremendous result for the team after such a struggle in recent races.

Juan Pablo Montoya starts second his McLaren Mercedes after a solid performance. It remains to be seen how much fuel the Colombian’s MP4- 20 is carrying compared to Michael Schumacher’s F2005, but track position is everything at the twisty 4.381KM Hungaroring circuit.

Jarno Trulli did his usual superb job in qualifying for Toyota to qualify third while Kimi Raikkonen, first on track to qualify also did a superb job for McLaren as he starts fourth, a second off the pace of Schumacher, but less than two tenths slower than his team- mate Montoya.

Ralf Schumacher drove a hard aggressive lap, using all the kerbing through the tighter corners to qualify a solid fifth. He may not have out-qualified team-mate Trulli, but at least he was close to the Italian’s pace.

Fernando Alonso was the final runner on track in qualifying and therefore had the optimal track conditions. The Championship leader ran too deep into turn one and then at the end of the lap ran wide, used the grass on the exit and still managed to qualify his Renault in sixth position.

Rubens Barrichello starts in seventh position in the second Ferrari ahead of Jenson Button who had a low-key run to eighth position in his BAR Honda. Giancarlo Fisichella’s Renault did not look well balanced at all and the Italian managed just ninth on the grid ahead of the second BAR of Takuma Sato.

Christian Klien put in a very smooth lap in his Red Bull Cosworth to start 11th ahead of team-mate David Coulthard who starts two places back in 13th. Nick Heidfeld did a very good job in the BMW Williams to split the two RB1’s while team-mate mark Webber’s FW27 looked simply evil and he starts back in 16th well over a second off Heidfeld.

The Sauber Petronas duo of Felipe Massa and Jacques Villeneuve start in 14th and 15th respectively in what has been a disappointing weekend so far for the Swiss-based team while Christijan Albers did a good job in his Minardi Cosworth to start 17th ahead of Narain Karthikeyan and Robert Doornbos in the Jordan and Minardi respectively. Following an engine change, Tiago Monteiro opted not to qualify and will start last.

The story of qualifying was Raikkonen’s ‘save’ after being the first driver on track to qualify while Michael Schumacher has sprung the surprise of day by taking Pole Position for Ferrari. Looking to race day, McLaren Mercedes look very strong, but first they have to pass Schumacher….

Qualifying times for the Hungarian Grand Prix

1. M.SCHUMACHER Ferrari 1m19.882s
2. MONTOYA McLaren 1m20.779s
3. TRULLI Toyota 1m20.839s
4. RAIKKONEN McLaren 1m20.891s
5. R.SCHUMACHER Toyota 1m20.964s
6. ALONSO Renault 1m21.141s
7. BARRICHELLO Ferrari 1m21.158s
8. BUTTON BAR 1m21.302s
9. FISICHELLA Renault 1m21.333s
10. SATO BAR 1m21.787s
11. KLIEN Red Bull 1m21.937s
12. HEIDFELD Williams 1m22.086s
13. COULTHARD Red Bull 1m22.279s
14. MASSA Sauber 1m22.565s
15. VILLENEUVE Sauber 1m22.866s
16. WEBBER Williams 1m23.495s
17. ALBERS Minardi 1m24.443s
18. KARTHIKEYAN Jordan 1m25.057s
19. DOORNBOS Minardi 1m25.484s
20. MONTEIRO Jordan no time

AS IT HAPPENS…

Conditions – Air temp: 35C degrees/Track temp: 50C degrees.

Kimi Raikkonen – Kimi will have his work cut out qualifying anywhere near the front, as the track is expected to pick up a lot of time as it grips up over the course of the session. But he has set the pace in three of the four sessions so far today, so let’s see what he can do. Impressive sector one – only 0.2s off his morning best. Lap looks fully committed but neat and tidy. Slight correction in the final corner but he blasts across the line in 1m20.891s – that should stand up well. A mega effort.

Mark Webber – Another ace qualifier who will suffer because of his slot in the running order here. Williams is still struggling to discover its early-season form and has brought new bodywork here again. The car still looks hard work, Webber is 1.6s down on Raikkonen at the second split. Locks his brakes at the penultimate corner, scratches out a 1m23.495s.

Robert Doornbos – The Jordan refugee has gone well for Minardi so far and is putting the pressure on team-mate Christijan Albers. Neat and tidy lap, looks more controlled than usual for a Minardi – but loses time by running wide at Turn 12. The result is a 1m25.484s.

Tiago Monteiro – The Portuguese driver had an engine change this morning, so the Jordan team elects to bring him back into the pits after his out lap and he doesn’t set a time.

Narain Karthikeyan – Will the Indian driver fare any better than his team-mate? He’s stabbing at the throttle in Turn Two, waiting for the grip to come in. Snap oversteer in Turn Eight and he’s nearly three seconds adrift of Raikkonen at the second checkpoint. Fighting the wheel in the final corner, posts a 1m25.057 to slot in comfortably ahead of Doornbos.

First break

Jacques Villeneuve – The former world champion has been losing ground to team-mate Massa again of late, but let’s see what he can do here. He’s 1.4s down on Raikkonen at the second sector but a steady, tidy lap nets a 1m22.886s. That puts him P2 for the moment, and elicits some applause from the team.

Jarno Trulli – Qualifying specialist Trulli in the Toyota is the first man who’s likely to challenge Kimi’s time. A fuel pressure problem lost him track time this morning, however. He’s just 0.04s shy of Raikkonen at the first split. The car seems to have a hint of understeer but the time is there – indeed, he pips Kimi with a 1m20.839s. We have a new provisional polesitter!

Christijan Albers – The Dutchman has been driving superbly in recent weeks and showed up the Jordans at Hockenheim. Has to correct the car in Turn Two and looks edgy in the fast Turn Four – he’s really trying hard. Scrabbling for traction but extracts an impressive 1m24.443s, more than a second quicker than Doornbos and 0.6s ahead of Karthikeyan. Super lap.

Takuma Sato – Taku’s been almost invisible this year and needs to step things up in the next few races. He’s started well – 0.02s up on Trulli after the first sector. But the time ebbs away in the middle sector and he’s now 0.475s adrift. Final time is a 1m21.787s – P3 at the moment, but a long way behind the top two.

Nick Heidfeld – Has been matching or eclipsing team-mate Webber in the races but still tends to play second fiddle in qualifying. Can he buck that trend with the advantage of a better running slot this time? Yes he can – his 1m22.086s is 1.4s quicker than Webber. Fuel maybe?

Second break

Rubens Barrichello – It will be interesting to see what Ferrari can do here, as the Italian team looked good this morning. Will the scorching conditions suit the Bridgestone tyres? Rubens gets a bit out of shape in Turn Two but he’s neck-and-neck with Trulli after the first sector. The car looks lively but 1m21.158s is not a bad time – puts him P3 for the time being.

Christian Klien – Has outpaced his Red Bull team-mate David Coulthard so far this weekend and needs to show well to stake his claim for the drive post-Hungary. The car looks a little nervous under braking at Turn One but he’s only 0.7s off pole after the first two sectors. Posts a respectable 1m21.937s.

Felipe Massa – Sauber man has been driving consistently well all year. Expect him to outqualify JV unless he’s carrying a fat fuel load. Committed, controlled lap yields a 1m22.565s – 0.3s ahead of Villeneuve but won’t trouble the front-runners.

David Coulthard – Can he show team-mate Klien who’s boss? Not a great start as he locks up at Turn One, but even so he’s still a whisker ahead of Klien after the first sector. But he loses time in the middle segment and comes up 0.3s short with a 1m22.279s.

Ralf Schumacher – An ideal opportunity for Ralf to outshine his Toyota team-mate Trulli at a track where he always goes well. He’s trying hard and has a lurid slide coming out of the slow chicane. Ends up P3 on a 1m20.964s – good effort but still just shy of Trulli.

Third break

Michael Schumacher – Michael was quick this morning and it’s probably the world champion’s best chance of qualifying up front since the North American races. Sure enough, he’s 0.179s up on Trulli at the first split; make that 0.8s after the middle sector – wow! He trips the timing beam in 1m19.882s – a stunning time, easily the best of the weekend so far. Even if he’s on a three-stop strategy, that’s a mighty effort.

Giancarlo Fisichella – Let’s see what Giancarlo can do now he’s got a decent qualifying slot. The Renaults haven’t been dialled in as well as we might have expected this weekend, but they often rise to the occasion in qualifying. But Fisi is 0.9s down on Schuey at the second checkpoint – that’s an age. The deficit is nearly 1.5s at the end of the lap as Fisi logs a 1m21.333s. That’s P6 at the moment – not what he was looking for.

Jenson Button – The Brit has being at the centre of a maelstrom of speculation surrounding his future this weekend, but he will have to put all that out of his mind now. He’s a couple of tenths adrift of Schuey after S1, and 0.855s after S2. It’s smooth and undramatic, as ever, but he seems to be lacking ultimate pace. Squeaks ahead of Fisi with a 1m21.302s.

Juan Pablo Montoya – Now, can Montoya take advantage of Kimi’s handicap and snatch pole? He’ll have his work cut out beating Schuey’s sub-1m20s effort. Looking good so far, only 0.08s behind at the first intermediate. But he can’t match Schuey’s stunning middle sector and now trails the German by 0.570s. A mistake-free lap yields a 1m20.779s, solid but eons away from the Ferrari.

Fernando Alonso – The handling of the Renault hasn’t been au point this weekend, but can the championship leader pull a rabbit out of the hat? Runs a bit wide at Turn One and is 0.143s down after S1. Matches JPM in S2 and is gunning for a front-row slot. But runs wide onto the dirt on the exit of the final corner and loses precious tenths – a 1m21.141s put him only sixth, two places behind title protagonist Kimi. That’s a big disappointment for the Spaniard…

Qualifying – selected driver quotes

Just when Ferrari’s 2005 season was being written off, Michael Schumacher showed just why he is world champion, putting in an amazing lap to give the team their first pole of the year. He and the other 19 drivers give their reactions to qualifying at the Nurburgring.

Michael Schumacher, Ferrari (1st, 1m 19.882s):
“I drove a good lap and I am delighted to be back here after suffering for so long. I am happy to be on pole, happy that it is with this margin and also that we look in good shape for the race. This is good for Bridgestone, who have suffered with us and this result is an excellent return for the effort they have put in. We saw from Rubens’ performance yesterday that, not only was the package quick over a single lap, it was also consistent over a longer run. There is no reason not to believe in a Ferrari comeback, but at the same time we will have to wait and see if this result is a case of the car and tyre suiting this track or if it will become a general trend. This is a great result and a great motivation for the whole team. As for being on pole, I think it is more important that I am on the clean side of the track, because I do not share the view that at this circuit, grid position is vital, because I think strategy in the race will be more important.. I am not worried about the hot conditions.”

Juan Pablo Montoya, McLaren (2nd, +0.897s):
“It’s good to be on the front row as my lap was not perfect. I had a bit of oversteer on the first corner and I already knew after the first couple of corners that I wouldn’t catch Michael Schumacher. So for the rest of the lap I was a bit cautious and concentrated on a good clean lap and getting on the front row. I am not worried about being on the dirtier side of the track as we have shown that our starts are really good this year. I am confident that I am in a very good position for the race if everything goes to plan.”

Jarno Trulli, Toyota (3rd, +0.957s):
“That was a very good lap, so I’m happy. We always knew this was going to be a tough session because I was going out so early after our problems in Hockenheim. I also had a fuel system problem this morning so I didn’t get a chance to try out the car on new tyres. That meant it was a bit of a guess for the balance on new tyres, but our car always goes well over one lap and I tried my best. I gradually built up my confidence as I went round, which was why the third sector was the best. Looking to the race, it’s always a tough afternoon here but we’ll try to keep up our pace.”

Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren (4th, +1.009s):
“Going out first in the session was making things obviously harder for me today. The track conditions constantly improved during the session, and I suffered as the level of grip was not at its best, and it was really slippery. However, I feel that I pushed as hard as I could to make up any deficit. I am happy with my lap and under the circumstances I feel that we have done the best job that we could expect. It is now very important for me to get a good start.”

Ralf Schumacher, Toyota (5th, +1.082s):
“All in all that was a pretty good lap for me. It was difficult to get the optimum out of the car because I had a bit of oversteer, but it was reasonably clean. And being fifth on the grid sets us up well for tomorrow, particularly because we will start on the clean side of the grid. We think we’ve got a good strategy so we’ll have to see how it works out. We’re certainly aiming for another good result. Since they changed the layout at the first corner there are more chances for passing here. The race will be long in the heat so it’s a matter of making no mistakes and hoping for the best.”

Fernando Alonso, Renault (6th, +1.259s):
“It is frustrating to be P6 and P9, but we have not quite been competitive all weekend. We didn’t manage to dial the understeer out of the car for qualifying, so the balance was not perfect, and I had a few moments round the lap. The one that really cost me time was in the last corner, where I got a bit off line and the car began understeering – I ended up in the grass on the exit and that definitely cost me positions. It is particularly disappointing to qualify badly here because overtaking is very hard – the only opportunities will be at the pit-stops and the start. We will be concentrating on those areas tonight so that we can make the most of our situation tomorrow.”

Rubens Barrichello, Ferrari (7th, +1.276s):
“Basically I think I drove a good lap apart from the fact that I lost a bit on the brakes at the beginning of the lap due to a change in set-up on the car, which made the brakes feel a little bit different. Bridgestone has done a phenomenal job to provide us with a tyre that has allowed us to be competitive again in qualifying. I have a good strategy and I know I can expect to have a very consistent performance level in the race. So I really hope I can get a good result.”

Jenson Button, BAR (8th, +1.420s):
“Eighth on the grid is not a great position to be starting from but hopefully we have a good strategy compared with the cars in front of me. I feel that I was unable to get much more out of the car today because we had pretty low grip. It also looks like we will have some different competition to fight with tomorrow. I’m sure we can achieve our target of some good points from here though so we’ll see what tomorrow brings. Hopefully the temperature will have cooled by a few degrees as well.”

Giancarlo Fisichella, Renault (9th, +1.451s):
“I had a clean lap, but I think I was too conservative in the final sector – and it clearly cost me time. Ninth is not a great position, but in reality we have been struggling a bit to get the car working well at this circuit. Looking to tomorrow, I think we have a good strategy, so hopefully we can use that to overtake people at the stops – and we had very good starts in Hockenheim, which should help us gain some positions too.”

Takuma Sato, BAR (10th, +1.905s):
“It was a better day for me today. In the morning we worked on the set-up which we could not do yesterday due to lost running time. We caught up nicely and I was happy with the balance of the car. In qualifying I felt that I had less grip and a bit of oversteer in the middle sector cost me a little time. In the end it was a reasonable lap and we now look forward to see what we can do from this position and hope that we have a strong package for tomorrow.”

Christian Klien, Red Bull (11th, +2.055s):
“Not a bad qualifying time for me, I think. The balance of the car felt much better in qualifying than it did this morning, so I was able to push quite hard. It was a pretty clean lap with no mistakes so I’m happy. It’s also good to have gone faster than my team-mate David.”

Nick Heidfeld, Williams (12th, +2.204s):
“I am happy with my lap. At the beginning, the balance was particularly good although later in the lap I suffered a bit but all in all it was ok. I have always liked this track and I am confident I can have a good race tomorrow and collect some points. Our car has definitely improved thanks to all the new aero parts but the gap to the front runners has been so big in the last three races that it will take some time before it’s filled.”

David Coulthard, Red Bull (13th, +2.397s):
“I’m a little disappointed. I had a little bit of a wobble at Turn one and know I could have extracted more time in the middle section, but that’s what I achieved today. It’s now a question of looking ahead to the race. I didn’t give myself the best preparation for qualifying this morning as I went off the track on my new tyres, and that was effectively the only time I had to try them out before qualifying. I knew I was always going to give away a little time after that, but we’ll just have to see what we can do tomorrow.”

Felipe Massa, Sauber (14th, +2.683s):
“The balance on my car was reasonable, but it just wasn’t quick enough. The lap was good enough for what we had this afternoon, but I couldn’t go faster. It’s going to be a difficult race starting this far back, but let’s try to finish at least. You never know what can happen here; it’s a very hot race and maybe not everyone will make it home.”

Jacques Villeneuve, Sauber (15th, +2.984s):
“The balance was pretty good, but that was as fast as the car would go with the strategy we chose. Actually, I expected to be slower than I was going so early in the session when the track was slippery, because Monaco and Hungary are both places where it gets much better as things progress. Being only three tenths of a second off Felipe – I’m quite happy with that, especially as our race pace is going to be better than our qualifying speed.”

Mark Webber, Williams (16th, +3.613s):
“Going out for qualifying second, especially on this track, is obviously a great drawback, although I must admit track conditions were not as bad as I expected. My first two sectors weren’t too bad but I lost a bit of time in the last sector. The car has improved, I can feel that, but we are still not where we want to be.”

Christijan Albers, Minardi (17th, +4.561s):
“I’m glad today’s qualifying went well, and now we’ll wait to see how the performance of the car is in the race tomorrow. We had some bad luck at the beginning of the weekend and lost quite a bit of time in the garage on Friday, but hopefully, we can get it together for the race so the car remains well balanced.”

Narain Karthikeyan, Jordan (18th, +5.175s):
“My qualifying lap was quite clean but the air and track temperatures were very high, so it will be interesting to see what will happen during the Grand Prix. I also think the track was a bit slower compared to this morning. However, I do think we have a good strategy for tomorrow and I am pretty confident about our Bridgestone tyre choice as well.”

Robert Doornbos, Minardi (19th, +5.602s):
“We did some good work this morning and I think found a good race set-up for the car. We had to make a slight compromise for qualifying, and I had a bit of a moment in Turn One with the brakes and ran wide. I tried to recover the rest of the lap, but then had another moment in the third sector. I therefore couldn’t get the optimum lap time, as I would have liked, but for the race, on used tyres, the car is very good, so we are definitely feeling optimistic for tomorrow.”

Tiago Monteiro, Jordan (20th, no time):
“We had some engine issues this morning in free practice. Therefore, we took the decision not to take any unnecessary risks for tomorrow’s race and change the engine. We had to adapt our strategy and this explains why I only did an installation lap in order to make sure everything is fine and also to save fuel and tyres. It is a bit frustrating but this is part of the game. However, it is going to be a long race in very hot conditions, so anything could happen.”

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