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Archive for Sunday, July 15, 2001

British Grand Prix: Schumacher secures pole

July 15, 2001

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— Although Michael Schumacher can make history with his 51st Formula One victory, he'll be thinking about another number today in the British Grand Prix.

"There are still 70 points available this season," Schumacher said after winning the pole Saturday.

He knows if he wins two of the last seven races to reach 98 points for the season, the championship will be his. He couldn't be in a better position as he pursues his seventh victory in 11 races this year.

"It's good to be on the pole as it is an advantage," Schumacher said. "We are in a strong position in the championship."

A victory would tie him with Alain Prost for the most in F1 history, and Schumacher is on track to become the first driver to win 10 times in a season.

He put himself in the elite position to win his third straight race by driving his Ferrari around the 3.194-mile circuit in 1 minute 20.447 seconds. It was the seventh pole this year and the 40th in the German driver's career.

Two-time series champion Mika Hakkinen, winless this year and out of the title race, was next at 1:20.529. He was followed by McLaren teammate David Coulthard, the two-time and defending race champion, who got around in 1:20.927.

Now, the question is, will McLaren team boss Ron Dennis give Hakkinen team orders to help Coulthard by blocking or slowing Schumacher?

"Well, it depends on the situation," Coulthard said. "But if there's a scenario that can help me gain points relative to Michael then, yes, I would expect help. I'm as curious as everyone ... to know just exactly what will happen."

Schumacher has 78 points to Coulthard's 47.

Dennis said he had given such orders only once or twice, but he said drivers had a "contractual obligation" to comply if he did.

And Hakkinen said he would, although, "It would be nice to win my first British Grand Prix."

Starting fourth will be Jarno Trulli, whose Jordan-Honda had a fast lap of 1:20.930. His teammate, Heinz-Harald Frentzen, went around in 1:21.217 to take the inside of the third row. Rubens Barrichello will start sixth in the other Ferrari after a lap at 1:21.715.

Schumacher's task also could be made easier because the fast Williams-BMW's of his brother, Ralf, and rookie Juan Montoya didn't qualify well. Montoya will line up eighth on the grid, two spots ahead of his teammate.

Ralf has won twice this season as has Coulthard, who hopes his front-row start will enable him to at least maintain contact with Michael.

"The front row is always an advantage, the pole is always an advantage because you get some clean air, but as we've seen this year, it isn't always the pole man who wins," Coulthard said.

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