Schumacher refuses to celebrate...yet

Michael Schumacher said he has no plans to celebrate winning his crucial pole position in Suzuka

Schumacher refuses to celebrate...yet

The German said taking pole for the third year in a row at Suzuka was the "first step" to becoming Ferrari's first world champion in 21 years.

He was just nine-thousandths quicker than arch rival Mika Hakkinen, who starts on the outside of the front row.

"It couldn't have started better" admitted Schumacher. "But pole is not as vital here as it is in other races. I want to win this race to finish the championship, and getting pole is the first step.

"We have a good starting position and a competitive car to do the job. I knew it was going to be tight. But if Mika or I could have got it together we would have been on pole".

The German can become champion if he wins on Sunday, while victory is just as crucial for Hakkinen to take the title challenge on to the last race in Malaysia.

"Naturally this is not just any normal race," said Schumacher. "We can finish this championship here, but I am used to this [pressure].

"There is no point in celebrating this pole position. It is nice, but the end result is what matters. We will have to fight for that very hard tomorrow, but we are ready to do this".

He admitted the start and the dash to the first corner will be vital to his victory hopes.

"I want to get a good start, which seems to be difficult for us traditionally here," said Schumacher, who misjudged his start last year to hand Hakkinen the lead. "But I hope we have adapted and learned from the past and we will start well. Then I need to drive it home which will be difficult, too. But if I lead into the first corner I will have a very good opportunity, but if I don't it won't be over either."

Click here for full qualifying results.

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