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MARCH 31, 2001

Schumacher pair set for battle off the line

FORMULA ONE brothers Michael and Ralf Schumacher became the first pair of siblings on the front row in the history of the sport after qualifying for the Brazilian Grand Prix -- and the pair are looking forward to a battle off the line.

Ferrari's Michael Schumacher topped the times to take pole, but the Williams of brother Ralf was close behind, and is hoping to cause a stir on race day.

But Schumacher senior is hoping his younger brother can help him to his seventh consecutive win from pole position as he continues his quest to better Alberto Ascari's record of nine straight wins.

"It is a different feeling having Ralf up there with me," said Michael Schumacher. "It is a good feeling though, and hopefully he can make things difficult for the people behind him.

"We (Ferrari) are looking in good shape. The car feels good and I am confident that I can carry on the recent success."

Ralf Schumacher echoed his brother's thoughts as he prepared for a competitive race at Interlagos. The two brothers have clashed in races in the past, but Ralf Schumacher said any fighting on the track on Sunday will be done fairly.

"I think it will be very competitive in the race," said Ralf. "But I'm looking forward to it. Michael and I always fight fairly but fiercely.

"The car is very fast on the straight line and this shows that the Michelin tires can't be that bad, but we'll have to wait and see how they perform in the race."

When the lights go out at the start of Sunday's race the two Schumachers are sure to provide a fascinating battle into the first corner as both are renowned as good starters.

Before they entered Formula One, Ralf was ahead in a kart race in Kerpen when Michael clattered into the rear of his kart.

Ralf said that he was sure it was not on purpose, and the pair are confident it will not end in tears now they have a similar situation in Formula One.

"We know each other well enough," said Michael. "We will be hard but fair. We don't want to make a crash out of this situation."