Qualifying: Schuey takes dominant pole

Michael Schumacher has made amends for previous lacklustre qualifying performances at the A1-Ring by grabbing a dominant pole position for Sunday's Austrian Grand Prix, while his McLaren rivals struggled to make it into the top six

Qualifying: Schuey takes dominant pole

Schumacher has never qualified higher than fourth in Austria, but never looked threatened after putting in an early quick lap to move his Ferrari clear at the top of the time sheets. The German would likely have improved on his last lap of the session had he not rounded the final corner to find the Arrows of Jos Verstappen sliding across the track. Schumacher took evasive action through the gravel trap destroying his final run, but with all the front runners out of laps, it was no matter.

"I was unlucky not to finish my final lap because of Jos spinning in front of me," said Schumacher, "and I quite wanted to because it would probably have been quicker and I didn't know what was going on with everyone else."

The reigning world champion needn't have worried for the McLarens of David Coulthard and Mika Hakkinen struggled to challenge even for a top six place, let alone pole position. A change in wind direction between the final free practice session and qualifying is thought to have affected the MP4-16's handling, leaving both drivers distinctly down on pace.

Coulthard finished seventh with Hakkinen just behind in eighth to give the Woking-based team its worst qualifying performance since the French Grand Prix in 1997.

While people in the McLaren pit scratched their heads, the Williams garage was wall-to-wall smiles as Juan Pablo Montoya and Ralf Schumacher took full advantage of the power offered by the BMW V10 and promptly stuck their FW22s in second and third spots on the grid.

Schumacher Jr tried in vain to give elder brother Michael a run for his money. After repeatedly notching up the fastest times in the first two sectors, the 25-year-old was unable to match his sibling's pace through the last two corners and looked set for second. But second soon became third as Montoya hustled around the short Spielberg circuit in 1m09.686s the Colombian was able to take his first front row grid slot in Formula 1.

Rubens Barrichello suffered a similar problem to Ralf Schumacher in that he could not match his Ferrari team mate through the final sector and after challenging at the top early on, the Brazilian finished fourth.

After Heinz-harald Frentzen was the quickest of the two Jordans throughout the morning, it was Jarno Trulli who put in the best qualifying performance of the two to go fifth fastest ahead of Nick Heidfeld, who took an impressive sixth place for the ever-improving Sauber team. Frentzen finished a disappointing 11th.

Behind the McLarens came the second Sauber of Formula 1 hotshoe Kimi Raikkonen in ninth, leaving Olivier Panis to round out the top 10. Panis continued to keep his BAR team mate and former world champ Jacques Villeneuve honest, by out-qualifying the Canadian for the third time this season. Villeneuve ran wide on several occasions at the slow Castrol Kurve and had to settle for 12th place.

For full qualifying results, click here.

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