Button gives BAR Montreal pole 11 Jun 2005
A BAR and a Ferrari on the front row - it was just like 2004! After all the McLaren and Renault pace all through practice, the grid for tomorrows Canadian Grand Prix certainly produced surprises.
Starting 12th in the line-up, Jenson Button achieved everything and more than BAR could have hoped, pushing his 007 round in 1m 15.217s to depose previous pacesetter Takuma Sato, who had done 1m 15.729s in the sister car.
On a track that lacked the ultimate level of grip drivers had enjoyed in practice this morning, McLarens Juan Pablo Montoya came up with 1m 15.669s on his run, then Giancarlo Fisichella bettered that for Renault with 1m 15.577s. That was two fancied runners who had come up short.
Then Michael Schumacher wound the Ferrari round in a nervous-looking 1m 15.475s, so now we had the 2004 Imola front row. But surely neither would resist the efforts of Renaults championship leader Fernando Alonso?
After David Coulthard had taken his Red Bull to 1m 16.890s for what would be 12th, Rubens Barrichello abandoned his run when his car started to smoke approaching the pits. It turned out to be the same gearbox problem that had afflicted Schumacher in morning practice.
So, out came Alonso, but right away it was clear he was not going to challenge for the front row, and his eventual best time was 1m 15.561s, good enough to push Fisichella across row two and to take third place.
Montoya and Sato were thus fifth and sixth, and Kimi Raikkonen seventh, running a little more fuel in the other McLaren.
Apart from Button and Schumacher on the front row, the other big surprise was Jacques Villeneuve who shut his critics up with an excellent effort for Sauber that set him eighth with 1m 16.116s.
On row five, Jarno Trulli just edged out Toyota team mate Ralf Schumacher, 1m 16.201s to 1m 16.62s, but the German ran early in the session when the track had yet to reach its best. Felipe Massa took his Sauber to 1m 16.661s to join Coulthard on row six, running a little more fuel than Villeneuve. Behind then, the Williams duo of Nick Heidfeld and Mark Webber wound up with laps of 1m 17.081s and 1m 17.749s, the Australian, like Schumacher Jnr, running early. More than likely the Anglo-German cars were running heavier than most.
In 15th place, Christijan Albers did one of the qualifying jobs of the season, pushing his Minardi to 1m 18.214s to beat Christian Klien. The Austrian invariably suffered as the first man to run, lapping his Red Bull in 1m 18.249s. Narain Karthikeyan locked up Jordan honours with 1m 18.664s, leaving Tiago Monteiro to beat Patrick Friesacher to the second spot on row nine, 1m 19.04s to 1m 19.574s.
Of course, we will only know what respective fuel loads everyone was running once the race gets underway tomorrow, but naturally even those running lighter than others were not admitting to anything this afternoon. Strategies remain closely guarded secrets until the first round of pits stops.
Who is really the quickest? Its hard to say, but expect the McLarens and Renaults to be very strong - assuming they can get past the two men on the front row of the grid, that is!