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Archive for Sunday, May 13, 2001

Schumacher, Montoya 1-2 in Austria

May 13, 2001

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— Three-time Formula One champion Michael Schumacher and Juan Pablo Montoya, the rookie driver many predict will be his successor one day, have the front on the grid for today's Austrian Grand Prix.

Schumacher won the pole Saturday in his Ferrari, with Montoya close behind in his Williams.

"With launch control, all the front-runners should get away at the same time and it will be vital to be first in the first corner," Schumacher said. "Then you can dictate the pace and force others to run the race you want."

The front row of the starting grid reflects the finish at the Spanish Grand Prix two weeks ago, when Schumacher won.

Montoya failed to finish his first four races, but then confirmed his talent in Spain.

Schumacher witnessed some of Montoya's driving skill when the Colombian passed him with a daring, deft move during the Brazilian Grand Prix in April. Montoya led that race until a crash forced him out.

A former Indy 500 and CART series champion, Montoya might be new to Formula One, but he knows the Austrian track well from his Formula 3000 days.

"We definitely got a lot of improvements in the car and it paid off," he said. "We have been very close all weekend and it's good to be on the front row.

"The wind changed direction late in the session, and it was not possible to go faster in a head wind. Judging from this morning I thought we would be in the top six but I never expected we would be ahead of the McLarens."

The McLarens of David Coulthard and Mika Hakkinen that had been so dominant in practice, ended up seventh and eighth, respectively.

Schumacher, the points leader after winning three of five races this season, clinched his fifth pole of the year and now has 37 in his career.

His fastest lap on the 2.68-mile A1-Ring circuit was 1 minute, 09.562 seconds, giving the German his first pole on the track that twists through the wooded hills in southern Austria.

The 71-lap Austrian Grand Prix is the only race Schumacher has never won and his 150th race today will be a chance to add to his total of 47 victories, second on the all-time list behind Alain Prost's 51.

Montoya gained the best qualifying result of his career, clocking in at 1:09.686, to stand .124 seconds behind Schumacher.

Montoya's Williams teammate Ralf Schumacher, Michael's younger brother, was third, .207 seconds behind.

"A great result for the whole team," Ralf Schumacher said. "On one hand it's better to be second than third, but on the other Juan Pablo will have to start from the dirty side of the track.

"It's going to be tough to predict what will happen in the race, but I think we are going to be strong in the second half when the circuit has more rubber on it."

Rubens Barrichello, the second Ferrari driver, was fourth, .224 seconds off the pace.

Jarno Trulli was fifth in a Jordan, followed by Nick Heidfeld in a Sauber.

The McLarens had a dreadful afternoon, both finishing nearly eight-tenths of a second behind Schumacher.

"Obviously we didn't manage to get the car to perform as well as this morning," said Coulthard, the winner of one race this season and second in overall standings with 28 points, eight behind Michael Schumacher.

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