Qualifying 1 review - San Marino 18 Apr 2003
Suddenly it all looks like old times and business as usual, with Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello setting the fastest qualifying times for Ferrari - even with the old cars.
"It's a good start to the weekend in front of the fans," sporting director Jean Todt said, "and confirmation of the potential of the F2002."
After his brush with the Variante Alta chicane this morning, world champion Michael Schumacher put in a fault-free first qualifying lap, ending the session comfortably quickest - even though BMW Williams chief designer Gavin Fisher believed that a perfect lap could have put either Ralf Schumacher or Juan Pablo Montoya ahead of the Brazilian. Schumacher Jnr complained of oversteer, while Montoya admitted that he was too conservative after his adventure at Interlagos and said his car felt very good.
Mark Webber starred again for Jaguar with fifth fastest time. "The first sector was a bit weak but the last was really good, so I am pleased," the Australian said. He also reported that Jaguar's fuel pick-up problems really are a thing of the past.
BAR Honda is also feeling "pretty confident," according to chief designer Geoff Willis, whose predictions of top-eight finishes for his cars were vindicated with Jenson button ending the session sixth and Jacques Villeneuve seventh, despite both cars losing time in the middle of the lap.
McLaren Mercedes could only manage eighth and ninth for Kimi Raikkonen and David Coulthard respectively. "It's a bit disappointing," admitted technical director Adrian Newey, "but the order will be different tomorrow." Some suspected that the cars ran with fuel to avoid giving rivals a suitable performance datum.
Heinz-Harald Frentzen rounded out the top 10 for Sauber Petronas despite snapping the throttle pedal of his C22, while Brazilian Grand Prix winner Giancarlo Fisichella was 11th.
Renault admits it is disappointed thus far with its performance this weekend. "The car isn't working well and we didn't expect to be so far away," said engineer Pat Symonds. Meanwhile, small changes helped Toyota to make Panis's car much better behaved over the kerbs. The same changes will be incorporated into da Matta's car for tomorrow.