Schumacher back in title fight

Michael Schumacher said his title challenge is back on track after putting his Ferrari on pole position for tomorrow's Italian Grand Prix

Schumacher back in title fight

The Tifosi were ecstatic as Schumacher and team-mate Rubens Barrichello made it an all-Ferrari front row for the first time in 2000.

This is the 29th pole of Schumacher's career and leaves him well placed to erode Mika Hakkinen's six point lead in the championship. The Finn had no answer to the pace of the Ferrari's and had to be content with holding off BAR's Jacques Villeneuve for third.

"I'm pleased because it means we are back on the road," said Schumacher, a reference to the fact that McLaren has had a definite pace advantage over Ferrari in recent races.

The German also claimed to be pleased by the speed of his team-mate. Barrichello was Schumacher's only challenger in the battle for pole and ended up just 0.027s adrift after a tense battle.

"If Rubens and I are both up there it is good news. It means the car is competitive," he said. "As for the championship, if we are both up front Rubens can give me good support. Or let's see if he supports me or I support him in the race..."

Schumacher spent the last ten minutes of the session waiting nervously in the garage. He had missed the Rettifilio chicane on his first flying lap and backed off to avoid a penalty. Rather than pitting at once, he continued to attempt another flying lap, putting him out of sequence with his rivals and meaning that he had used up his allocation of qualifying lap with ten minutes of the session still remaining.

"It was not pleasant to have to sit there and hope nothing would change. I would rather have been out there fighting," he admitted.

"I messed up my first lap when I went wide at the first chicane, so I had to do an extra lap which we hadn't planned for. That either meant
carrying on and doing another lap or waiting until the end.

"I knew I was little bit faster and decided to go for it because you never know what is going to happen at the end of the session.

"We didn't do our best but it was good enough and that's what counts."

For full qualifying results, click here.

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