The inside of the third row for Michael Schumacher and the inside of the fourth row for his Scuderia Ferrari team-mate Rubens Barrichello, who set the fifth and seventh fastest times respectively, in this afternoon’s qualifying session. This looks like being a solid basis on which to build a strong race tomorrow, especially as the world champion reckoned he had set his time with a fuel load that was either heavier than his rivals or at least closer to their fuel load than was the case in Canada a week ago. Being able to run a longer first stint in the race is nearly always an advantage. Both Ferrari drivers will also have the advantage of starting from the clean side of the track, which is a more significant advantage than at some other tracks.
Toyota’s Jarno Trulli took his first pole of the season, qualifying just 69 thousandths of a second quicker than second placed Kimi Raikkonen in the McLaren-Mercedes. The second row sees Jenson Button in third place for BAR-Honda, with the Renault of Giancarlo Fisichella alongside him, while the second Renault of Fernando Alonso lines up next to Michael. Rubens has Takuma Sato in the BAR-Honda for company on row four.
Although Trulli was delighted with pole, it was not all good news for Toyota today. After Ralf Schumacher’s accident yesterday, FIA the chief medical delegate decided the German should not take part in the rest of the weekend, so his place was taken by Toyota’s third driver, Ricardo Zonta, who last raced in the 2004 Brazilian Grand Prix, also for the Japanese team. He qualified in 13th place today.
The accident was caused by a tyre failure and other teams running on the same brand of tyre – not the one used by Ferrari – have also seen signs of a potential problem. All the parties concerned, including the FIA are holding a meeting this afternoon to find the best and of course the safest solution to this difficulty for tomorrow’s race.
Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello scored a resounding one-two in the United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis on Sunday, but in the extraordinary circumstances where all the Michelin pulled into the pits at the end of the parade lap due to problems with their tyres. They took no further part in the race, and Schumacher and Barrichello were unopposed as they completed the 73 lap Grand Prix to a hostile reception from the fans.
The seven teams equipped with Michelin tyres elected not to race after the French tyre company advised against them doing so, saying that they couldn’t guarantee their products”safety. Fourteen cars pulled into the pits leaving six cars to take the start.
The Ferrari pair rapidly left behind their opposition as they raced away at the start of the race, but after seven laps they were soon racing nose to tail. First to make a pit stop was Barrichello on lap 24 and Michael Schumacher came in two laps later. His stop was seven seconds longer, so that he emerged in second place, 3.6s behind Barrichello.
During the middle stint, Michael cut that to 2.1s but it then went back up to 3.0s before the second round of pit stops. Barrichello was first to stop for the second time on lap 49, and Michael Schumacher again stopped two laps later, taking fractionally less time at rest.
But Michael came out of the pit virtually side by side with Rubens as they braked into the first corner, and with Michael refusing to give way on the inside, Rubens suddenly took avoiding action and drove onto the grass on the outside of the corner which gave Michael the lead.
Rubens proved to be the quicker driver, however, and soon cut his deficit to Michael until lap 62, 11 from the end, when the gap suddenly rose as Rubens settled for second place. He was 1.5s behind Michael when the chequered flag came out.
Sadly, the Ferrari drivers and technical director Ross Brawn received a hostile reception on the rostrum, in spite of the fact that they had raced whereas seven teams had not. Jordan’s Tiago Monteiro completed the top three.
The result moves Ferrari up to third place in the Constructors championship on the same score as second placed McLaren, while Michael Schumacher is now up to third in the championship, three points behind Kimi Raikkonen. Barrichello is in fourth place, a further five points behind.
After the race quotes
First win of the season for Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro, the team’s 183rd victory from 713 Grand Prix starts. Michael Schumacher took his 84th win from 222 starts, the fourth at this circuit. Today’s one-two finish was the twenty fourth for the current driver pairing of Michael and Rubens and the seventieth for the Scuderia.
”This was our first win and our first one-two finish of the season, obtained under very unusual circumstances. To be put this result in boxing terms, we and Bridgestone won with a technical knock-out. We witnessed a very close race between our two drivers, even if today’s main aim was to bring the cars home without any problems, whatever the finishing order. I am particularly happy that this is the hundredth win for a car produced under the technical direction of Rory Byrne, that coincides with the eightieth victory for the Scuderia since I have been running it. For Ferrari, this is an important win, coming as it does in a country that is our number one market. It was pleasing to see that, even in these circumstances there were so many of our fans and so many Prancing Horse banners in the grandstands right to the end of the race. I am very surprised by the situation that arose today, but would prefer not to comment on things that are not directly my responsibility. Bridgestone is doing an extraordinary job. There are now ten races to go to the end of the season and, as usual, we will do our utmost to reach our targets.ý
”This was a strange grand prix and it was odd seeing the other cars go into pit lane at the start. But then Rubens and I had a close race – there was only the two of us really. I suppose it was not the best way to take my first win of the season and it was sad for the fans. But I am glad so many of the Ferrari supporters stayed to the end to see how this strange race would end. It is just a shame we could not fight in a normal way, because I think that, even with the other cars, we could have won as we had a strong car. The situation we had today was out of our hands and I don’t know all the details of the problems the others had. But I do know that we left at home tyres that had more performance and less durability, but we and Bridgestone made our choice knowing how much stress there is here on the tyres. I lost the lead to Rubens because we had long pit stops to check the tyres and mine was longer than his and he was pushing very hard.ý
”This was a sad day for the race fans and it was also sad to see the other cars pull into the pits, but I guess their problem must have been a serious one. I am also disappointed that I missed out on getting 10 points today. Once I got in the lead I pushed quite hard and I managed to open a gap to Michael and I also had a tremendous out lap. I tried to stay ahead but it did not go my way. Bridgestone and Ferrari had worked so hard that I think we could have won here anyway. We had the quickest car and I was quicker than Michael at the start but I could not find a way past him. Formula 1 has never looked very strong in the States and I think it is worse now.ý
”We had no problems during the race and the tyre performance was consistent throughout. Our drivers were pushing one another quite hard and it got exciting after the second pit stop. We tried to put on the best show we could under these circumstances. During the pit stops we were being cautious simply because we had time to spare.”
© Scuderia Ferrari