Ferrari Marlboro’s 2004 season got off to the best possible start
courtesy of the F2004, which in the hands of Michael Schumacher and
Rubens Barrichello ensured an all-Ferrari front row of the grid for
tomorrow’s Australian Grand Prix.
This was the first time that the new qualifying procedure was seen in
action, with two sessions running back to back with just two minutes
in between each. The running order for the first session was based on
the result of the last race – in this case the 2003 Japanese GP. That
meant Suzuka winner Rubens Barrichello was first on the track, while
Michael Schumacher was eighth man out of pit lane.
Facing a dusty track, the Brazilian adopted a cautious approach, to
post the eighth quickest time, while the German set the second best
lap time. Barrichello was therefore the first of the quickest group to
go out in the second half and his time of 1’24”482 was good enough for
second place. Schumacher’s 56th pole came courtesy of a lap in 1’24”
408, just seven hundredths of a second quicker than his teammate.
Juan Pablo Montoya and Jenson Button set identical third place times
of 1’24”998, but third place on the grid tomorrow will go to the
BMW-Williams driver, by virtue of being quicker than the BAR-Honda man
in the first part of the session.
The third row of the grid features the Renault of Fernando Alonso in
fifth place (1’25”699) and the Jaguar of Mark Webber in sixth place
(1’25”805.) The new format, all-in-one qualifying lasted one hour and
51 minutes. Only three drivers failed to post a second time: Olivier
Panis (Toyota,) Christian Klien (Jaguar) and Gianmaria Bruni (Minardi)
and so they occupy the last three spots on the grid in that order,
based on their first timed attempt.
A day of mixed emotions at Jaguar Racing today as Mark Webber (27) and
Christian Klien (21) took to the track at Albert Park (Melbourne) to
take part in the new Saturday qualifying session. After a successful
practice session in the morning in cooler conditions both Mark and
Christian had good first phase qualifying sessions that gave them
their positions for final qualifying. Christian was 7th to head out on
track but by corner one he had suffered a suspected hydraulic failure
which pushed him off track, leaving him no choice but to abandon his
lap and come into the pits. He will start from 19th place on the grid
tomorrow. Mark was 12th out on track and delivered a clean lap to see
him finish with an excellent time of 1:25.805 allowing him to start in
6th tomorrow and on the third row of the grid at his home race.
Jean Todt : 'First qualifying of the season and immediately we have
two Ferraris on the front row. It is an encouraging result, but we are
well aware - we only have to think back to last year - that it is only
the first step in what will be a very long season. The F2004 worked
well, showing that it has good potential. The work carried out over
the winter by the team, by Bridgestone, Shell and our other technical
partners is beginning to bear fruit. Now we have to tackle the most
important part of the weekend. We know that because the current
qualifying system involves running on Saturday afternoon with enough
fuel to get to the first stop in the race, today’s lap times are not
an accurate reflection of the strengths of the teams. Overall
reliability and strategy will be the key factors tomorrow.'
Michael Schumacher : 'The team has done a fantastic job. 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.
But I do not want to sound too optimistic as I am sure there will be
harder times ahead at some of the other circuits. 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.'
Rubens Barrichello : 'For the first part of the session, I was first
on track and it was very dusty, so I was being very careful and then
on my second run, I pushed as hard as I could. 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. We found
the right set-up and the car felt good. I was aware of the new engine
rule and I got the impression that maybe only 10% of the drivers were
trying for a time in the first part, while the majority were only
looking after their car for the second half.'
Ross Brawn : 'I am very happy with this result, even though I realize
that the qualifying format does not paint a clear picture of the
situation. We therefore have to be a bit cautious. Having said that, I
think we have made a good choice in terms of race strategy. I must
congratulate the team for doing a great job and Bridgestone, who have
proved how inaccurate was the criticism leveled at them by the media
in the last few months.'
Juan Pablo Montoya: 3rd Chassis: FW26 05 (T-car FW02) Best time:
1:24,998 min The car was a lot better today than in yesterday's free
practice. It took us a while to get the set up of my car working
properly. Yesterday we also struggled a bit with the tyres but they
have got better and better. I was amazed by the time I set
in the first qualifying, but then I tried too hard in the second
qualifying and made a mistake in the third sector and lost my
advantage. However, I am confident for the race, because our package
seems to improve throughout the weekend, which will lead us to have a
very good car tomorrow.
Ralf Schumacher: 8th Chassis: FW26 03 Best time: 1:25,925 min I don't
really know why everything went fine in the first qualifying but not
in the second one. Being eigth on the grid is obviously not what I
have dreamed of but we should wait and see what the race will bring.
The most important thing for me is to collect as many points as
Jenson Button Position: 4th Lap time: 1:24.998 "I really enjoyed that.
It's always difficult to achieve the perfect lap but I'm very happy.
It's a little bit disappointing to miss out on third after I matched
Montoya's time. I had switched to the T-car for qualifying after a
problem with my race car in practice this morning. Under the new rules
we also had to switch the engine from my race car, so it was a race
against time for us to be ready in time to start qualifying. The team
did a very good job though. If we have the reliability in the race
tomorrow then we're definitely looking strong for points."
Takuma Sato Position: 7th Lap time: 1:25.851 "I'm very pleased with my
lap - the best I've had this weekend. It was a little bit difficult
this morning because we had a mechanical problem with the gearbox, so
I lost quite a bit of track time. We made a set-up change prior to the
first qualifying run and the car didn't feel too good, but we switched
back to the practice set-up and I just felt very comfortable for the
second session. I'm really looking forward to the race tomorrow now."
Driver-By-Driver: Albert Park Grid
1 - MICHAEL SCHUMACHER (Ferrari) 1m24.408s - The Red Baron cruised to
his 56th career-pole by setting an unprecedented qualifying pace in
his new F2004.
'Straight out of the box we have great potential,' said the German.
'The car feels so good but I'm sure the tougher times will come sooner
2 - RUBENS BARRICHELLO (Ferrari) 1m24.482s - He's disappointed to miss
out on pole but still this Brazilian is a 'happy' guy after pushing to
'It was so dusty at the start,' he said, 'but on my second run I
really pushed. Even if Michael was quicker, it was a seriously quick
lap. Now I try to win.'
3 - JUAN PABLO MONTOYA (BMW-Williams) 1m24.998s - Closer than he's
been all weekend, JPM hints that BMW-Williams might go even faster on
'That was better,' he said. 'We sometimes take a bit of time to get it
all working, like the tyres. It should be a good race. I hope so.'
4 - JENSON BUTTON (BAR-Honda) 1m24.998s - Drove-home his pre-season
winter pace to storm-in a lap-time identical to the other racer on the
'It's a great car to drive. I'm quite happy with my lap. If we have
good reliability, a podium would be great but I think we're aiming for
5 - FERNANDO ALONSO (Renault) 1m25.699s - A spokesman for the team
reckons these grid-spots are slightly below expectations, but Alonso
made no mistakes.
'The car's balanced,' said the Spaniard, 'and we got the maximum. I
think fifth is quite good after a productive day's work and I'm
6 - MARK WEBBER (Jaguar) 1m25.805s - Once again, the local-kid did
good at home and could not stop smiling after fending-off both
McLarens and a Williams.
'It's fantastic,' he beamed. 'I saw Sato's time and knew I'd need a
good lap to top him. There was more grip out there and I got another
couple of tenths.'
7 - TAKUMA SATO (BAR-Honda) 1m25.851s - His qualifying-lap was Sato's
best all weekend to bounce-back from a morning mechanical-problem on
the BAR's gearbox.
'I lost quite a bit of time,' said the Japanese. 'We made a bad set-up
change in the first lap so changed back and I felt very comfortable
for that one.'
8 - RALF SCHUMACHER (BMW-Williams) 1m25.925s - The German said
everything 'went fine' in the first session but somehow his FW26 lost
pace in the second.
'I don't really know why,' he said. '8th is obviously not what I have
dreamed of but let's wait for the race. The most important thing is to
9 - JARNO TRULLI (Renault) 1m26.290s - The Italian endured a difficult
session and even though he made no mistakes, Jarno expected to be
faster than this.
'I have to admit, I didn't expect some of those guys to be so high.
But we also know that we're quicker in the race trim. Our first aim
must be to finish.'
10 - KIMI RAIKKONEN (McLaren-Mercedes) 1m26.297s - Woking's first
silver-car is a long-way back but Raikkonen said the novel MP4-19
didn't feel too bad.
'We're just slow,' he said. 'We can't make any changes overnight so
let's just see what happens and hope we gain places by being on a
11 - FELIPE MASSA (Sauber) 1m27.065s - The young Brazilian reckons he
could have done better in the second session but still lauded a 'very
good' F1 car.
'It could be quite good in the race,' he added. 'I was quicker on my
first lap but I also expected to be top-12, and I'm eleventh, so I
can't be unhappy.'
12 - DAVID COULTHARD (McLaren-Mercedes) 1m27.294s - McLaren are
miles-behind with their new MP4-19 challenger, and the Scot is willing
to admit it.
'We're struggling,' he said after an 'off' at the last corner. 'We
just don't have the pace. It's not a great start but the championship
is not decided.'
13 - CRISTIANO DA MATTA (Toyota) 1m27.823s - CART's former champion
hopped out of his car and blamed a 'disconnected' balance on a less
than shining tour.
'I am not pleased,' he said. 'We had less grip and compared with this
morning, I expected better results. I also made a small mistake in
14 - GIANCARLO FISICHELLA (Sauber) 1m27.845s - The Italian was happy
with his early pace but made a big mistake in Turn-One that ruined the
lap that mattered.
'I recovered,' he said, 'and did a good second sector, but I lost a
bit of concentration and made another couple of mistakes. The balance
15 - NICK HEIDFELD (Jordan) 1m28.178s - 'Quick Nick' did a better
second lap than his first and is now happier with the EJ14's form over
a longer run.
'I was hoping to beat da Matta,' he said, 'but I did the maximum and
it couldn't come. The car has a good set-up, we're consistent, and
long-runs look better.'
16 - GIORGIO PANTANO (Jordan) 1m30.140s - Quite a bit slower than
Heidfeld, this F1 rookie tried his best but agrees that there's still
more in the EJ14.
'That was my first qualifying,' said the former F3000 driver, 'but we
didn't do our complete maximum and we can be better. So we still need
to work a lot.'
17 - ZSOLT BAUMGARTNER (Minardi) 1m30.681s -
18 - OLIVIER PANIS (Toyota) NO TIME - F1's veteran was positive going
into the session but an electronics malfunction meant Toyota could not
start his car.
'We improved from Friday, and I was driving on the limit in first
qualifying.' Technical boss Mike Gascoyne said the problem stopped the
throttle from working.
19 - CHRISTIAN KLIEN (Jaguar) NO TIME - Jaguar absolved their
young-rookie of any blame for his big-off in Turn-12 by confirming an
'My power steering didn't work,' said the Austrian, 'and the gearbox
was also not very good so I really didn't have any choice but to go
off like I did.'
20 - GIANMARIA BRUNI (Minardi) NO TIME - The little Faenza's teams
impressive rookie driver also did not get out of the garage with a
P. No Driver Team - Engine Tires Times Ave/Gaps Laps
1. 1 M.SCHUMACHER Ferrari B 1'24"408 226.173 Km/h 3
2. 2 BARRICHELLO Ferrari B 1'24"482 + 0'00"074 3
3. 3 MONTOYA Williams BMW M 1'24"998 + 0'00"590 3
4. 9 BUTTON BAR Honda M 1'24"998 + 0'00"590 3
5. 8 ALONSO Renault M 1'25"699 + 0'01"291 3
6. 14 WEBBER Jaguar Cosworth M 1'25"805 + 0'01"397 3
7. 10 SATO BAR Honda M 1'25"851 + 0'01"443 3
8. 4 R.SCHUMACHER Williams BMW M 1'25"925 + 0'01"517 3
9. 7 TRULLI Renault M 1'26"290 + 0'01"882 3
10. 6 RAIKKONEN McLaren Mercedes M 1'26"297 + 0'01"889 3
11. 12 MASSA Sauber Petronas B 1'27"065 + 0'02"657 3
12. 5 COULTHARD McLaren Mercedes M 1'27"294 + 0'02"886 3
13. 16 DA MATTA Toyota M 1'27"823 + 0'03"415 3
14. 11 FISICHELLA Sauber Petronas B 1'27"845 + 0'03"437 3
15. 18 HEIDFELD Jordan Ford B 1'28"178 + 0'03"770 3
16. 19 PANTANO Jordan Ford B 1'30"140 + 0'05"732 3
17. 21 BAUMGARTNER Minardi Cosworth B 1'30"681 + 0'06"273 3
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