Barcelona, Spain — Michael Schumacher claimed his third pole of the season and was joined on the front row by Ferrari teammate Rubens Barrichello in qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix on Saturday.
Schumacher's final qualifying lap of 1 minute, 16.364 seconds was fractions of a second faster than Barrichello's 1:16.690.
Schumacher, a three-time winner this season and the defending champion in Spain, averaged 138.585 mph en route to the 46th pole of his career.
Ralf Schumacher of BMW-Williams qualified third in 1:17.277, and teammate Juan Pablo Montoya was fourth at 1:17.425. Kimi Raikkonen of McLaren was fifth in 1:17.519, and Renault's Jenson Button followed at 1:17.638.
Eddie Irvine qualified 15th but was demoted to 22nd, last on the grid, after he was ruled to have used illegal fuel. His qualifying time was also withdrawn.
Ferrari continued its domination, claiming the front row for the third time this season.
Schumacher was fastest in Friday's practice, and Barrichello was quickest in practice early Saturday with the long, fast corners at the Circuit de Catalunya favoring Ferrari.
Schumacher and Barrichello admitted they drew motivation from their competition.
"I have enjoyed that," Schumacher said. "In the first two runs he (Barrichello) was going faster. I like the challenge. When he's putting in quicker sectors, quicker corners, it's obvious for me to see where I have to improve."
Barrichello, shooting for the fifth pole of his career, promised to keep chasing Schumacher.
"I wish I could have had the pole ... but it's wonderful just to push each other," he said. "Sure I would like to have kept first place, but I'm knocking on the door."
"Michael is having a harder time (with me) this year and I'm enjoying that. We are pushing each other quite a bit and I think the car is working perfectly, so we'll be fighting it out tomorrow."
Schumacher has won 15 of the last 24 races and will be looking for his 57th career victory Sunday.
Through four races, Schumacher leads the standings with 34 points and is followed by Ralf Schumacher (20), Montoya (17), and Renault's Jenson Button (8).
Ferrari leads the constructors' race with 40 points, three ahead of Williams.