Saturday April 28th, 2001
World Champion Michael Schumacher claimed the Ferrari team are back on top of the Formula One field after clinching pole position for the Spanish Grand Prix, the fifth round of the 2001 season.
Schumacher, who had won six consecutive races including the first two events this season, had struggled at the last two Grands Prix in Brazil and San Marino, seeing how his McLaren rival David Coulthard equalled him on top of the drivers' championship.
However, after taking his fourth pole position of the season, the German claimed the Italian team are again ready to fight for the top spot.
"This pole means we are back where we want to be and that makes me hopeful for the rest of the weekend," Schumacher said. "We have worked very precisely towards the race for the past two days and this is the result, but it is very tight at the front.
"For the start, it will be interesting to see the effect of the launch control, as this is the first time we will see it used in race conditions. I am pretty confident about the new electronics as we have done a lot of testing and I see no reason not to use all of it in the race.
"I can see that in qualifying, you might get an advantage without traction control, but the race is a different story. Strategy will be a big factor in the race."
The German triple world champion and his team realised that the track conditions had deteriorated and did not expect his time to be beaten so he decided not to do his final run and conserve his tyre supply.
"Ross mentioned to me there was no point to stay do the lap and come in," he said. "The times were slightly down I think because the wind had moved a little bit faster so there was no point."
But after Mika Hakkinen's dramatic last-minute run nearly toppled Schumacher, he has predicted a difficult race on Sunday.
"There's more than 60 laps to go which is going to be tough," he said. "It will be the first race we do under proper race conditions with all these new systems, so it will be quite interesting to see what is the effect for whom.
Schumacher's team mate Rubens Barrichello qualified in fourth position, nearly half a second behind the three-times world champion. The Brazilian was disappointed, and set his sights on the race, where he expects to get a positive result.
"I am disappointed with the result of qualifying as I was unable to get the most out of the package available to me," admitted Barrichello. "I made a few changes to the set-up during the session, but they did not produce the result I was expecting. Therefore, I never managed to get a perfect lap.
"When I left the pits for my last run, I thought I could get onto the front row, but instead, I dropped to fourth place. Itís a shame, but tomorrow is another day and I am confident of getting a very good result."