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Schumacher leads Ferrari 1-2 in Australia
Driver-by-driver analysis too
March 6, 2004

Scuderia 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.

Quotes

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 possible here.

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 than later.'


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 the Max.

'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 Sunday.

'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 second grid-row.

'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 points.'


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 feeling confident.'


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 collect points.'


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 different strategy.'


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 turn fourteen.'


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 was good.'


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 hydraulic failure.

'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 technical hitch.

Results

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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