Michael Schumacher Sets First Pole Ever at Belgium

Michael Schumacher completed his collection of pole positions with a first pole at Spa-Francorchamps, when he put in a textbook performance in a dry but cool qualifying for Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix.

Michael Schumacher Sets First Pole Ever at Belgium

Michael Schumacher completed his collection of pole positions with a first pole at Spa-Francorchamps, when he put in a textbook performance in a dry but cool qualifying for Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix.

The dominant display ensured the German, who has won at every track on the Grand Prix calendar, has now claimed the top spot on each of the 17 circuits and is now in the best position to chase his record breaking 10th win of the season.

Finn Kimi Raikkonen continued the impressive performance that had seen him claim fastest time in the practice sessions, but he could not quite find the extra needed to beat Schumacher and finished just less than half a second slower.

The young McLaren-Mercedes driver led the session early on, but was given a driving lesson by the masterful five-time World Champion and ended the session second best but with his first front row start of his career.

The flying Finn knocked the second Ferrari of Rubens Barrichello down to third, while the Williams-BMW pair of German Ralf Schumacher and Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya were fourth and fifth.

Briton David Coulthard, still unable to mount a challenge to his younger McLaren-Mercedes teammate, ended the session down in sixth, 1.334 seconds slower than leader Schumacher.

Italian Jarno Trulli claimed seventh for Renault with Eddie Irvine eighth for Jaguar, Mika Salo ninth for Toyota and Jenson Button in the second Renault completing the top ten.

Raikkonen was the first man to set a competitive time when he clocked a lap of 1:44.741 seconds after the first cars came out on track 20 minutes into the hour-long session.

Ten minutes later, Schumacher sauntered to the top of the times, beating the young Finn's effort by 0.747 seconds. The McLaren driver took up the challenge five minutes later, but could only manage a time 0.299 seconds off the World Champion.

Barrichello lay in wait in the second Ferrari, just less than half a second off his teammate's time while the Williams-BMWs of Schumacher and Montoya were almost a full second off the pace in fourth and fifth.

Olivier Panis suffered a blow to his hopes when the Honda engine in his British American Racing car expired and he was forced to park his smoking machine at the side of the track at the end of the Malmedy corner.

Italian Giancarlo Fisichella also hit trouble when he spun his Jordan backwards into the tyre barriers at Fagnes as he headed through the corner with 20 minutes of the session to go.

Ten minutes later, Schumacher underlined his mastery of the tricky track by lowering the barrier by another two tenths with a lap of 1:43.726 seconds.

Raikkonen had a final attempt, using all the circuit and more as he shot around the twisty track, and although his untidy effort was a little quicker than his initial lap, it was still not enough and left Schumacher with his fifth pole of the season.

Pos Driver Team Time Laps 1. M.Schumacher Ferrari (B) 1:43.726 241.837 km/h 9 2. Raikkonen McLaren Mercedes (M) 1:44.150 + 0.424 12 3. Barrichello Ferrari (B) 1:44.335 + 0.609 12 4. R.Schumacher Williams BMW (M) 1:44.348 + 0.622 12 5. Montoya Williams BMW (M) 1:44.634 + 0.908 12 6. Coulthard McLaren Mercedes (M) 1:44.759 + 1.033 12 7. Trulli Renault (M) 1:45.386 + 1.660 11 8. Irvine Jaguar Cosworth (M) 1:45.865 + 2.139 12 9. Salo Toyota (M) 1:45.880 + 2.154 12 10. Button Renault (M) 1:45.972 + 2.246 12 11. de la Rosa Jaguar Cosworth (M) 1:46.056 + 2.330 10 12. Villeneuve BAR Honda (B) 1:46.403 + 2.677 11 13. McNish Toyota (M) 1:46.485 + 2.759 12 14. Fisichella Jordan Honda (B) 1:46.508 + 2.782 11 15. Panis BAR Honda (B) 1:46.553 + 2.827 10 16. Sato Jordan Honda (B) 1:46.875 + 3.149 12 17. Massa Sauber Petronas (B) 1:46.896 + 3.170 12 18. Heidfeld Sauber Petronas (B) 1:47.272 + 3.546 10 19. Webber Minardi Asiatech (M) 1:47.562 + 3.836 12 20. Davidson Minardi Asiatech (M) 1:48.170 + 4.444 11 All Timing Unofficial

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Qualifying: Schumacher blitzes pole

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