Barrichello on Pole in Rainy Qualifying - Australia
Saturday March 2nd, 2002
by Timothy Collings
It was all dejà vu, with a subtle difference, at Albert Park on Saturday as Rubens Barrichello and Michael Schumacher secured an all-Ferrari front row on the grid for Sunday's season-opening Australian Grand Prix.
Both men broke all previous records at Albert Park in a rain-hit, but intriguing, qualifying session, littered with incidents - including the luckless Japanese debutant Takuma Sato's failure to clock a qualifying lap within 107 per cent of the pole, after a gearbox problem prevented him lapping before the deluge.
In the end, the weather and not the drivers or the spectators was the winner as the Australian event suffered its first wet qualifying session in seven years in Melbourne.
If it was a sad day for Sato, whose Jordan-Honda team sent him out in teammate Giancarlo Fisichella's car in the wet in a vain bid to record a qualifying time, it was a memorable one for Brazilian Barrichello. He registered the fourth pole position of his career in preparation for his 148th Formula One race, with a lap record time of 1:25.843. Strangely, it was also the third time he had won pole in similar wet conditions.
Barrichello and Schumacher traded record fastest lap times. In the end, when the weather made certain that there would be no further improved times, Barrichello wound up five-thousandths of a second ahead of his teammate Schumacher, who is seeking to become the first driver to complete a hat-trick of victories in Melbourne.
Barrichello's pole and Schumacher's 2nd place also meant that, for the second successive year, Ferrari filled the front row and that for the seventh consecutive year the race will start with both teammates on the front row. In the past, the Williams and McLaren teams have dominated qualifying in the same way as Ferrari did in the dismal conditions this time. The only difference is that it is Barrichello and not Schumacher in the prime starting position.
The Italian team were four-tenths of a second clear of their nearest rival, Schumacher's younger brother Ralf, in the leading Williams-BMW. He was third, ahead of the two McLaren-Mercedes of David Coulthard and Kimi Raikkonen. Ralf Schumacher's Williams teammate Juan-Pablo Montoya was sixth.
These were the lucky ones, as many drivers were caught out by the early red flag-enforced eight-minutes stoppage when Sato stopped on his installation lap, after only four minutes, and later when the rain came down.
Among the frustrated men was Coulthard, who had an early lap spoiled when he spun to avoid a collision with Jacques Villeneuve in his BAR-Honda; and Montoya, whose efforts were curtailed by the rain.
Barrichello was fastest from the early part of the session and had to improve his time after Coulthard and Ralf Schumacher had taken the initiative from him. In the end, all of the top four drivers clocked times inside last year's pole - a sure sign that this year's season-opener is going to be a fast and thrilling tussle for glory - and the weather forecast for tomorrow, thankfully, predicts warm sunshine.
Pos Driver Team Times
1. Barrichello Ferrari (B) 1:25.843 222.392 km/h
2. M.Schumacher Ferrari (B) 1:25.848 + 0.005
3. R.Schumacher Williams BMW (M) 1:26.279 + 0.436
4. Coulthard McLaren Mercedes (M) 1:26.446 + 0.603
5. Raikkonen McLaren Mercedes (M) 1:27.161 + 1.318
6. Montoya Williams BMW (M) 1:27.249 + 1.406
7. Trulli Renault (M) 1:27.710 + 1.867
8. Fisichella Jordan Honda (B) 1:27.869 + 2.026
9. Massa Sauber Petronas (B) 1:27.972 + 2.129
10. Heidfeld Sauber Petronas (B) 1:28.232 + 2.389
11. Button Renault (M) 1:28.361 + 2.518
12. Panis BAR Honda (B) 1:28.381 + 2.538
13. Villeneuve BAR Honda (B) 1:28.657 + 2.814
14. Salo Toyota (M) 1:29.205 + 3.362
15. Frentzen Arrows Cosworth (B) 1:29.474 + 3.631
16. McNish Toyota (M) 1:29.636 + 3.793
17. Bernoldi Arrows Cosworth (B) 1:29.738 + 3.895
18. Webber Minardi Asiatech (M) 1:30.086 + 4.243
19. Irvine Jaguar Cosworth (M) 1:30.113 + 4.270
20. de la Rosa Jaguar Cosworth (M) 1:30.192 + 4.349
21. Yoong Minardi Asiatech (M) 1:31.504 + 5.661
22. Sato Jordan Honda (B) 1:53.351 + 0:27.508 *
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