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Barrichello puts Ferrari on pole
Alan Baldwin | October 11, 2003 13:25 IST
Last Updated: October 11, 2003 18:17 IST
Title favourite Michael Schumacher will start Sunday's decisive Japanese Grand Prix from the lowest grid position of his Ferrari career and behind championship rival Kimi Raikkonen.
But the German, who qualified 14th after a lap marred by rain, could take heart in a grid that still left him on course for a record sixth championship with team mate Rubens Barrichello on pole.
Schumacher needs just one point from the season-ending race at Suzuka to be sure of beating Argentine Juan Manuel Fangio's record and he will not even need that if McLaren's Raikkonen fails to win.
The Finn qualified eighth after crashing his car in practice and taking team mate David Coulthard's car for qualifying and the race.
Sunday will be Schumacher's lowest grid position since his Benetton days when he started the 1995 Belgian Grand Prix from 16th place. But he still won that race and ended the year as champion.
Until Saturday, Schumacher had started the last five Japanese Grands Prix from pole position and has also won the last three.
Barrichello benefited from the weather, the last of the frontrunners to go out before occasional spits of rain turned into a steadier drizzle.
"If I can win this one, then for Michael it is done," said Barrichello, who will be given free rein to go for the seventh win of his career.
The Brazilian will line up on the front row alongside Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya, the Williams driver whose title aspirations were ended at the last race at Indianapolis when the two collided.
Ferrari and Williams are fighting for the constructors' championship, with the Italian team three points clear of the BMW-powered one.
"It's up to me to get ahead of Rubens, hopefully without touching this time," said Montoya, whose team mate Ralf Schumacher starts from the back row after spinning off the slippery track.
Brazilian Cristiano da Matta gave Toyota a second row sweep with third place and French team mate Olivier Panis qualifying fourth -- a result to delight the carmaker at a circuit owned by rivals Honda.
Spain's Fernando Alonso was fifth for Renault and will start alongside Jaguar's Australian Mark Webber with McLaren's David Coulthard and Raikkonen behind.
Italian Jarno Trulli's hopes of a first pole were shattered by the weather after the Renault driver was fastest in Friday's first qualifying.
He failed to set a time, returning to the pits after his warm-up lap, and starts alongside Ralf.
Grid positions for the Japanese Grand Prix after Saturday's final qualifying:
1. Rubens Barrichello (Brazil) Ferrari 1 min 31.713 seconds
Ralf Schumacher (Germany) Williams no time
Jarno Trulli (Italy) Renault no time