Brazilian GP qualifying: Rubens takes pole on home soil

A miniscule 0.05s covered the top three in qualifying for the Brazilian Grand Prix, with Rubens Barrichello taking pole position for the start of tomorrow's race. McLaren's David Coulthard went second quickest with the decidedly on-form Mark Webber determined to prove himself in third, for Jaguar Racing

Brazilian GP qualifying: Rubens takes pole on home soil

Barrichello's broad smile was only outshone by an understandably delighted Webber in the post qualifying press conference. The Australian goes into the Jaguar Racing record books with the team's best qualifying performance to date. Brazilian team-mate Antonio Pizzonia could only watch and wonder why his R4 was only capable of 17th - 1.5s off the pace.

Coulthard was separated from his team-mate, Kimi Raikkonen, who qualified fourth, by just 0.05s. The Finn looked like a graduate of the Jacques Villeneuve/Juan Pablo Montoya school of driving during his hot lap, sliding visibly through the middle sector on his way to the second row of the grid.

The session kicked off in dry conditions with a track temperature of approximately 26 degrees Celsius. Jenson Button was first out after spinning off in yesterday's wet pre-qualifying hour, fortunately the weather behaved this afternoon (Saturday) and the young Englishman enjoyed a brief spell at the top of the times with a lap of 1m14.504s.

Juan Pablo Montoya was fourth out after an off in first qualifying. A spectacular 317km/h through the start/finish straight speed trap - compared to DC's 309km/h and Michael Schumacher's 306km/h - was not enough to offset handling deficiencies on the twisty infield section, but the Colombian did manage to displace Button's BAR.

Ralf Schumacher made a better fist of it than Montoya but it was Jordan's Giancarlo Fisichella, who first despatched the Colombian to 'P2'. Ralf was then slower in the middle sector than the Italian, shedding further doubt on the handling of the Williams there, but he used his extra horsepower in the final, uphill blast onto the straight to beat him by 0.6s. The Geman finished the day in sixth, behind Renault's Jarno Trulli. Fisichella went on to qualify an excellent eighth.

It was strange to see Michael Schumacher shuffled down to seventh, but with fuel loads a closely guarded secret we will have to wait until the race to see this afternoon's performance in its true light. The world champion looked as unruffled as ever afterwards, perhaps secure in the knowledge that his place on the grid is a mere 0.3s off Barrichello's pole time.

Elsewhere in the battle of the team-mates; Olivier Panis was 1.4s slower than his impressive fastest lap in practice and finished 15th, three slots ahead of Cristiano da Matta. Third place finisher in Malaysia, Fernando Alonso, couldn't match Jarno Trulli's pace and took his Renault to tenth, behind a receding Montoya. Meanwhile Jacques Villeneuve chased Jenson Button down but lost out by 0.16s, the pair finishing either side of Nick Heidfeld's Sauber in 11th and 13th.

The latest weather forecast for tomorrow in Sao Paulo is cloudy with thundery outbreaks and a maximum temperature of 23 degrees Celsius.

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