Final qualifying: Schumacher one-two

Michael Schumacher judged his qualifying lap to perfection to take pole position for the San Marino Grand Prix today (Saturday) in front of Ferrari's adoring tifosi. The reigning world champion has yet to win a race this year

Final qualifying: Schumacher one-two

Schumacher lapped his F2002 machine in 1m22.327s, just 0.014sec faster than his younger brother Ralf in his Williams-BMW, despite a grassy trip through the Variante Alta chicane which caused him to back off through the closing corners in case dirt on his tyres caused him to overshoot. The all-Schumacher front row was even more impressive given that their mother is seriously ill in hospital.

"We knew what the old car was capable of," Schumacher said. "And we proved it today. I knew before the year started that this was not going to be another perfect season like last year, but Australia and Brazil were pretty unusual with the weather. It did work against us a bit and we are 16 points behind after three races, but there is plenty of time left to make up the gap."

Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn said of Michael's lap: "I told him the sector times and that he was three-tenths up at the second split. I didn't expect him to slow up that much, but in the end he backed off by a perfect amount."

Ralf's front row starting slot will solidify his position within the team, which has been called into question in recent weeks. Despite using the spare car after a shunt in practice, he was over four-tenths clear of team-mate Juan Pablo Montoya, who was pushed back to fourth by Rubens Barrichello's Ferrari. Rubens was also forced to start in his spare after spinning his race car into the gravel during the warm-up.

Schumacher Jr said of his lap: "After the first sector I thought it was going to be difficult, but the team had done a very good job with the T-car after my accident this morning."

Mark Webber was a sensational fifth for Jaguar, showing its pace in Australia and Brazil was no fluke. The Australian admitted that his car was "definitely running lighter [on fuel] than we were in Brazil", but pipped Malaysian GP winner Kimi Raikkonen (McLaren) by a tenth.

Jacques Villeneuve produced a stunning lap for seventh to answer some of his critics, lapping some two-tenths faster than BAR team-mate Jenson Button (making it two apiece in their personal qualifying tussle) who was ninth. The BARs were split by Fernando Alonso (1m23.169s) in the first of the Renaults.

David Coulthard (1m23.818s) had to content himself with 12th quickest time after running wide at the first Rivazza in the final sector of the lap.

Olivier Panis (1m23.460s) achieved Toyota's aim of a top 10 qualifying slot. Further down the order the Jordan-Fords appeared to be relatively fuel heavy with Giancarlo Fisichella (1m24.317s) and Ralph Firman (1m26.357s) in 17th and 19th positions respectively. The only man not to complete his lap was Jos Verstappen, who crashed his Minardi at the exit of the Variante Alta and will thus start from the back of the grid.

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Michael Leads All-Schumacher Front Row at Imola

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