Ralf Aiming to Seize Pole Advantage

Ralf Schumacher was delighted after powering to his third pole position in four races as Williams swept their rivals off the front row of the French Grand Prix.

Ralf Aiming to Seize Pole Advantage

Ralf Schumacher was delighted after powering to his third pole position in four races as Williams swept their rivals off the front row of the French Grand Prix.

The German, who won at Nurburgring last weekend to muscle into the title reckoning, took the first pole of his Formula One career in France in 2001 and left no doubt that he would again be the man to beat in Sunday's race.

His lap of 1:15.019 seconds, for the fourth pole of his career, was 0.117 quicker than Colombian teammate Juan Pablo Montoya, who will start alongside him.

Ferrari's Championship leader Michael Schumacher, a six times winner in France, shares the second row with his closest rival, McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen. Schumacher leads Raikkonen by seven points, with Ralf third, 15 points behind his older brother.

"The team did a great job, I just hope that we make a bit more out of it than we did in Montreal," said Ralf.

The Williams team's last front row sweep was at the Canadian Grand Prix last month when Michael Schumacher won and Ralf followed him for lap after lap.

"The Ferrari is very strong in the first sector, through the first two turns, so we need to watch our back a bit," added Ralf, who celebrated his 28th birthday on Monday.

Montoya, who has still to start on pole this year after seven last season, said he suffered understeer and lost time in turn seven. But he was otherwise happy.

"I picked up a lot of time from the morning (practice)," said the Colombian. "This morning I really wasn't very comfortable with the car...it felt a lot better, probably the best it has felt all weekend. I think this is a very good track for Williams."

The grid restored normal service to Formula One after a topsy-turvy first qualifying session on Friday saw Minardi's Jos Verstappen clock the fastest time in changing weather conditions that favoured the tail-enders.

Minardi's dream of taking on the big boys evaporated on a warm and dry afternoon at Magny-Cours however and Verstappen and his British team mate Justin Wilson filled their more familiar slots on the back row. Despite that, Ralf refrained from congratulating his team until Verstappen had completed his lap.

"Anything can happen, and to be honest it was a bit of respect to the driver as well. They are all good racing drivers and you have to wait for them to finish," he said.

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