MARCH 5, 2005
AUSTRALIAN GP - SATURDAY - QUALIFYING SESSION 1 REPORT
How not to go qualifying
Formula 1's idea to have aggregated qualifying proved to be a complete mess in Melbourne on Saturday as a rain storm in the middle of the session screwed the hopes of some of the big stars. Michael Schumacher ended up 18th over night 24.7secs off the pole position set by Giancarlo Fisichella's Renault. With that kind of disadvantage Schumacher has no chance of anything other than a mid-grid starting position. Others to suffer were Kimi Raikkonen (10th and 11secs off pole), Juan Pablo Montoya (11th and 12secs), Rubens Barrichello (12th and 12secs), Fernando Alonso (14th and 14secs), and Ralf Schumacher (17th and 18secs). Felipe Massa had the worst of it going out on dry tyres and having to pit without a time, while Takuma Sato screwed up and crashed.
This left a very odd grid with Fisichella a deserved provisional pole man, two seconds ahead of Jarno Trulli. Unless weather intervenes on Sunday morning Fisichella will not be caught. Mark Webber was third ahead of Jacques Villeneuve, who spun his Sauber on his warm-up lap, and the two Red Bulls of Christian Klien and David Coulthard. The top 10 was completed by Nick Heidfeld, Jenson Button, Narain Karthikeyan (who also spun on his out lap).
Sunday qualifying may change a few positions but the gaps between the drivers are so big that change is unlikely.