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Schumacher puts Ferrari back on pole in Hungary

July 30, 2005 19:05 IST

World champion Michael Schumacher put Ferrari back on top with a stunning first pole position of the year in Hungary on Saturday.

Michael SchumacherWith his title hopes in tatters after a season of struggle, the 36-year-old fired off a devastatingly quick qualifying lap of one minute 19.882 seconds to pip McLaren's Juan Pablo Montoya by 0.897.

Renault's runaway championship leader Fernando Alonso ran slightly wide at the last corner, kicking up dust, to qualify a disappointing sixth. The Spaniard's title rival, Kimi Raikkonen, was fourth in his McLaren.

The considerable margin, at the second slowest circuit on the calendar, added up to the 64th pole position of Schumacher's phenomenal career.

The seven-times champion is now one short of equalling the record set by Brazilian Ayrton Senna the day before his death at Imola in 1994.

Even if rivals suspected the German's Ferrari was light on fuel for a race sponsored by title backer Marlboro, Schumacher was delighted to find himself in such a strong position at a circuit where overtaking is difficult.

"It was a good lap," he told reporters. "We obviously feel very delighted after a suffering period where not very much seemed to work in our favour.

"All weekend we have been very competitive and this is the result.

"I'm pretty confident. It gives a lot of motivation and a lot of pleasure to everybody."

HOLLOW VICTORY

Italian Jarno Trulli, in a Toyota, was third fastest to share the second row with Raikkonen.

The Finn, who led last week's German Grand Prix before retiring with an hydraulics problem, finished ahead of Toyota's fifth-placed Ralf Schumacher on Saturday.

Alonso leads closest rival Raikkonen by 36 points with six races remaining after Hungary. Schumacher is 40 points adrift of the Spaniard.

Renault are 22 clear of McLaren.

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Schumacher clinched Ferrari's sixth successive constructors' championship at the Hungaroring last year on his way to a record 13 wins.

He has won only once this year, a hollow victory in the U.S. Grand Prix at Indianapolis where six cars started after the Michelin-equipped teams withdrew due to tyre safety concerns.

Schumacher's last pole position before Saturday was at the penultimate race of 2004 in Japan in October while Ferrari's was with Brazilian Rubens Barrichello in his home race the same month.

"A lot of people put a lot of emphasis on the start position," said Schumacher.

"Strategy is actually more important than the grid position. We hope we've got the right one."

So too did Montoya, with McLaren used to having the quickest car on the track.

"I think from what we have seen we should be stronger than Ferrari," said the Colombian, wearing a new helmet in his national colours.

"My main goal in the last few races is to try to win as many as possible and I think tomorrow we've got the car to win here. Michael's pace was extremely quick and we think he is probably going to be a bit light on fuel.

"We'll see tomorrow. If he's not, he's definitely got the pace to win."

Barrichello was seventh fastest, ahead of Briton Jenson Button in a BAR and Renault's Italian Giancarlo Fisichella.

Qualifying Result:

  1.  Michael Schumacher (Germany)     Ferrari   1:19.882
  2.  Juan Pablo Montoya (Colombia)    McLaren   1:20.779
  3.  Jarno Trulli (Italy)             Toyota    1:20.839
  4.  Kimi Raikkonen (Finland)         McLaren   1:20.891
  5.  Ralf Schumacher (Germany)        Toyota    1:20.964
  6.  Fernando Alonso (Spain)          Renault   1:21.141
  7.  Rubens Barrichello (Brazil)      Ferrari   1:21.158
  8.  Jenson Button (Britain)          BAR       1:21.302
  9.  Giancarlo Fisichella (Italy)     Renault   1:21.333
10.  Takuma Sato (Japan)              BAR       1:21.787
11.  Christian Klien (Austria)        Red Bull  1:21.937
12.  Nick Heidfeld (Germany)          Williams  1:22.086
13.  David Coulthard (Britain)        Red Bull  1:22.279
14.  Felipe Massa (Brazil)            Sauber    1:22.565
15.  Jacques Villeneuve (Canada)      Sauber    1:22.866
16.  Mark Webber (Australia)          Williams  1:23.495
17.  Christijan Albers (Netherlands)  Minardi   1:24.443
18.  Narain Karthikeyan (India)       Jordan    1:25.057
19.  Robert Doornbos (Netherlands)    Minardi   1:25.484
20.  Tiago Monteiro (Portugal)        Jordan           


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