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Schumacher takes Hungarian pole
Gary Emmerson in Budapest | August 14, 2004 22:29 IST
World champion Michael Schumacher set himself up to claim a record 12th victory of the Formula One season when he landed pole position for Sunday's Hungarian Grand Prix.
Ferrari driver Schumacher, the penultimate man on track, was at his best once again in qualifying at Budapest on Saturday as he clocked up the 62nd pole of his career and seventh of the season.
"We obviously worked very hard for that result," said Schumacher. "It's been just a great effort from everyone.
"I think we are going to do our race as much as we can do it and I don't think it's a secret that it will be very unlikely to take that title away from us."
The German six-time world champion's lap time of one minute 19.146 seconds was 0.177 seconds quicker than team mate Rubens Barrichello.
Schumacher will clinch a record 12th win in 13 races this season if he is successful in Sunday's race. Ferrari are also likely to wrap up a sixth successive constructors' title if the German wins.
BAR's Japanese driver Takuma Sato will begin from third on the grid despite ending more than half a second slower than Schumacher, with British team mate Jenson Button joining him on the second row.
Sato had looked set to post a time to rival the Ferraris until he ran wide in the final sector of his lap.
The positive qualifying performance followed a difficult week for BAR in which Button announced he has signed a contract with former team Williams for 2005.
BAR insist they have a firm deal with Button, who is third in the world championship standings, and team principal David Richards took pride in the on track display.
"This will not be a team that will destabilised by side issues," Richards said. "We are a racing team and every single man is a solid professional. Today's performance is a great indication of that.
"I'd be lying if I said there wasn't a different atmosphere. It is just more focused and more professional if it can be. Everyone knows what the objectives are and what our goals are and no one has flinched from that."
Last year's winner Spaniard Fernando Alonso was fifth fastest ahead of the Williams cars of Brazilian Antonio Pizzonia and Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya.
McLaren drivers Finn Kimi Raikkonen and Briton David Coulthard will begin from 10th and 12th respectively.
The team have improved performances in recent races but blamed poor tyre choice for their below-par qualifying.
"I think we have been too conservative with our tyre choice and are paying the price," said Coulthard. "But we just need to get on with it and do the best we can in the race."
Sauber's Felipe Massa opted not to go out for his qualifying lap after being given a 10-grid position punishment following an engine change.
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