Ferrari lock out front row in USA 01 Jul 2006
Ferrari continued to dominate the US Grand Prix meeting here in Indianapolis, by annexing the front row of the grid in qualifying on Saturday afternoon.
Michael Schumacher enhanced his chances of a record fifth win at the speedway by taking the 67th pole position of his career with a lap of 1m 10.832s. Team mate Felipe Massa was second on 1m 11.35s, half a second clear of their closest challenger. That was Giancarlo Fisichella, who managed 1m 11.920s for Renault.
Schumacher praised the consistency of his car, and said he was very surprised how much of an advantage the red cars had. It shows when the package is working right, we can be very strong, ; he said. Everything went perfectly. ;
This was Fernando Alonsos worst qualifying session of the year. The champion was only fifth on 1m 12.9s, so Rubens Barrichello will start between him and his team mate after the Brazilian squeezed 1m 12.109s out of his Honda. That was a major fillip for the team, after their recent tough races.
Sixth place went to BMW Sauber courtesy of Jacques Villeneuve. They lost Nick Heidfeld early in the session when his F1.06 rolled to a halt in Turn 12 (leaving him 10th on the grid with 1m 15.280s), but the former champion rose to the challenge to record 1m 12.79s.
Jenson Button will start seventh, with 1m 12.523s for Honda, heading Toyotas Ralf Schumacher on 1m 12.795s. Kimi Raikkonen made it through to the final session, whereas McLaren team mate Juan Pablo Montoya did not. The Finn was a disappointing ninth overall with 1m 13.17s, Montoya 11th with 1m 12.190s.
Williams Mark Webber (1m 12.292s), Toro Rossos Scott Speed (1m 12.792s), the Midlands of Christijan Albers (1m 12.85s) and Tiago Monteiro (1m 12.86s), and Red Bulls Christian Klien (1m 12.925s) all made it through to the second session but were subsequently eliminated from the top 10 shootout.
The early fallers were David Coulthard (1m 13.180s) for Red Bull, Takuma Sato (1m 13.96s, a very good effort for Super Aguri), Nico Rosberg (1m 13.506s) in the Williams, who was subsequently dropped to the back of the grid for missing a weighbridge call, Toyotas Jarno Trulli (1m 13.787s), who fell victim to a rear-suspension problem, Toro Rossos Tonio Liuzzi (1m 1.01s) and Franck Montagny (1m 16.036s) in the second Super Aguri.
So thats the grid. Ferrari and Bridgestone had a lot of data from last years race to process in the cause of this years, and that undoubtedly helped. Renault admitted that they were stunned by Ferraris pace, and it seems that though Michelin have had no tyre problems whatsoever, they may perhaps have been conservative on their tyre choice for this event after last years dramatic events.