Schumi at the front for Spanish GP

Michael Schumacher stunned arch rivals McLaren by stealing his first pole position of the season in McLaren's own backyard

Schumi at the front for Spanish GP

The World Championship leader blitzed the field with a 1m 20.974s lap time, 43 minutes into the session despite crosswinds affecting the handling of his Ferrari.

He starts at the front for the first time since the final round of the World Championship in Japan around six months ago.

Schumacher's 24th pole in 133 races - more than a second faster than last year's pole, is a blow for McLaren, who are looking to close down on his 20-point lead in the World Championship.

"It was as good as it probably could have been in the circumstances - considering the wind," said Schumacher.

"The wind got up, which made it a little more difficult, but I couldn't get the car exactly the way I wanted at the end. At least I had a clear run.

"I am pretty confident for tomorrow - no more than that."

Schumacher has a phenomenal record in Spain, the scene of his first win for Ferrari in '96. He has finished all nine races he has started, never finished out of the top six and been on the podium every year but one since 1992.

"I had a good record in Brazil, too, and I won that so I hope this race has a good outcome as well," he said.

After two fluffed starts this year Schumacher said a quick getaway was not
especially crucial here in Spain - but he has practised his getaways since the last race in Britain.

"If you do a good start and you lead the race you can play the tactics from there and that makes it slightly easier," he said.

"But we have proven we can win from behind so it isn't entirely necessary to be on pole here, but it helps."

Schumacher's starts alongside arch-rival Mika Hakkinen, second, with Rubens
Barrichello in third and David Coulthard fourth.

In the Championship, Schumacher leads from Coulthard, with reigning World Champion Mika Hakkinen two more behind.


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