Michael Schumacher missed his hopes of a front row start for Ferrari this afternoon by just four tenth's of a second, but he was positive that he can still give the dominant McLaren-Mercedes drivers a good race for the honors in Sunday's San Marino Grand Prix. "I lost a couple of tenth's of a second on my final run when I made a mistake at the last corner. It didn't cost me a front row place, but without it I could have been closer," said Michael. " I am still pretty close and I think I can give them a good race. I Thought I would be a lot further away after yesterday's practice and this morning, but we have improved the car a bit more and we are making more changes overnight and hoping to get even closer," said Michael.
Eddie Irvine made it an all Ferrari second row of the grid with a fine fourth place on the grid , the Irishman delighted with his time which was 7 tenth's slower than his team-mate.
David Coulthard had to fight hard for the pole with his team-mate Mika Hakkinen who missed the pole position spot by just one tenth of a second. It was Coulthard's seventh pole, but it wasn't an easy one. "The car was not as good as this morning because of the increase in temperatures. I changed it after my second first run, but it was no good and I had to change it back again. I didn't have the confidence in the car that I had this morning and the understeer into the corners got worse. I had to drive around it," explained Coulthard.
Hakkinen's chances of taking the pole disappeared when his tyres went off three-quarters of the way around the lap. The car wasn't handling as well and I couldn't improve my time," he said.
Alexander Wurz was delighted with fifth place on the grid when counted for qualifying. "The car was good and I improved on a couple of places where I was not so good this morning. I was surprised to be so quick," said the young Austrian. "I can have a real go at the podium from this position," he said later. His team-mate Fisichella was upset with the changed handling of his car this afternoon. "I changed the car, but it was no good and I spun. I had to stay out as we had no time to change it back again," he said.
The Williams drivers were still struggling back in sixth and eighth place on the grid, Villeneuve improving to sixth at the last moment after a frustrating session. Both he and Frentzen complained of a general lack of grip and attempts to find more from the wing settings saw the cars losing out on straight line speed. The team were unable to find much improvement in the chassis throughout the day.
Damon Hill continued to go well here, he was bumped from the second row of the grid by Irvine, the Jordan driver saying that his best chance of keeping fourth spot was spoiled when his engine blew up on his final run of the session. Ralf Schumacher was back in ninth spot, his best run spoiled by a mistake. Rosset managed to make the grid in last spot for Tyrrell before his engine blew up. Nakano had two engine failures in his Minardi and ended up 21st. Both the Stewart drivers were fighting bad handling that was not helped by the hotter conditions. Panis had to start the session in his T-car after his race chassis was having its gearbox repaired from the morning session. He took it for the last two runs and set his best time.
Herbert and Alesi both complained about bad handling from their Saubers with places on the sixth row of the grid. Mika Salo had to use his spare car, set up for Diniz, when his gearbox failed again. Diniz' car was not set up as well as he had hoped after missing time with a gearbox failure in the morning.
San Marino Grand Prix, Qualifying Results:
Pos Driver Nat Team Time
1 D.Coulthard GBR McLaren-Mercedes MP4/13 1:25.973. 206.436 kph;
2 M.Hakkinen FIN McLaren-Mercedes MP4/13 1:26.075
3 M.Schumacher GER Ferrari F300 1:26.437
4 E.Irvine GBR Ferrari F300 1:27.169
5 A.Wurz AUT Benetton-Mecachrome B198 1:27.273
6 J.Villeneuve CAN Williams-Mecachrome FW20 1:27.390
7 D.Hill GBR Jordan-Mugen-Honda 198 1:27.592
8 H.H.Frentzen GER Williams-Mecachrome FW20 1:27.645
9 R.Schumacher GER Jordan-Mugen-Honda 198 1:27.866
10 G.Fisichella ITA Benetton-Mecachrome B198 1:27.937
11 J.Herbert GBR Sauber-Petronas C17 1:28.111
12 J.Alesi FRA Sauber-Petronas C17 1:28.191
13 O.Panis FRA Prost-Peugeot AP01 1:28.270
14 M.Salo FIN Arrows A19 1:28.798
15 T.Takagi JPN Tyrrell-Ford 026 1:29.073
16 J.Trulli ITA Prost-Peugeot AP01 1:29.584
17 R.Barrichello BRA Stewart-Ford SF2 1:29.641
18 P.Diniz BRA Arrows A19 1:29.932
19 E.Tuero ARG Minardi-Ford M198 1:30.649
20 J.Magnussen DNK Stewart-Ford SF2 1:31.017
21 S.Nakano JPN Minardi-Ford M198 1:31.255
22 R.Rosset BRA Tyrrell-Ford 026 1:31.482
All Timing Unofficial