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Saturday, October 16, 1999 Published at 10:18 GMT 11:18 UK

Schumacher grabs pole

Michael Schumacher's trip to the new Grand Prix has paid off

Ferarri's Michael Schumacher made a sensational return to Grand Prix racing, taking pole position for Sunday's Malaysian Grand Prix just three months after breaking his leg.

BBC Motor Racing Correspondent Jonathan Legard: "Extraordinary even by Schumacher's standards"
The German walks with a limp, but had no trouble driving fast enough to qualify almost a full second clear of British team-mate Eddie Irvine.

It is Ferrari's first one-two on the front row for almost a year, and a massive blow to title rivals Mika Hakkinen and McLaren.

The Finn, defending world champion, qualified fourth, behind team-mate David Coulthard of Britain.

[ image: Schumacher promised to help Irvine win the race]
Schumacher promised to help Irvine win the race
The Scot is likely to pull over and allow Hakkinen to challenge the Ferraris from the start, while Schumacher promised to help Irvine win the race.

"My plan is to go flat out from the start and we will see what the positions are at the end and then make what decision is necessary," said the German.

Asked to clarify whether that meant he would let Irvine overtake him if they were lying first and second late in the 56-lap race, Schumacher said: "Yes."

Michael Schumacher: "No real surprise for me to be up front"
Schumacher's commitment to Irvine, who leaves the team after this season, has often been questioned.

The 30-year-old insists his first priority is to Ferrari's Constructors' championship challenge although Irvine believes the drivers' title comes first.

With championship leader Hakkinen having the chance to clinch the title in this first Malaysian event, Ferrari needed to pull out all the stops.

[ image: Bad day for Hakkinen]
Bad day for Hakkinen
And Schumacher's dramatic comeback from missing six races sets up Sunday's race perfectly.

"I could never have expected this," said Schumacher.

"We expected to be strong, but to be a second ahead is very surprising. The team did a great effort.

"We have made a big step and the car is very good. I did 40 laps yesterday and almost 40 laps today and am feeling in good shape so my leg should not be a problem."

Irvine said: "The potential of the car has always been there, but this is the first time we have been able to show it.

"To have an all-Ferrari front row when you consider what we are trying to achieve is really good.

[ image: Irvine speeds around hot and humid Malaysia]
Irvine speeds around hot and humid Malaysia
Irvine was happy to see Hakkinen outqualified by his team-mate and joked: "I don't think he will have any problems getting past unless David takes notice of that bung I gave him."

Coulthard snatched third place on the grid in the final seconds of a hot and humid session, but the advantage will be purely psychological when team orders come into play.

"I will not be making it difficult for Mika to pass me," admitted Coulthard who got the better of the Finn by just 0.071 of-a-second.

"We have got a lot of work to do tonight."

[ image: Frentzen span as faint title hopes suffered a blow]
Frentzen span as faint title hopes suffered a blow
Britain's Johnny Herbert built on his win last time out in the European Grand Prix by taking fifth place on the grid, ahead of Stewart-Ford team-mate Rubens Barrichello, who qualified sixth.

But Heinz-Harald Frentzen's faint title hopes appear to have taken a fatal blow, since the German could only manage 14th-fastest in the Jordan, behind team-mate Damon Hilll, who was ninth-quickest.


1. Michael Schumacher, Germany, Ferrari, 1 minute, 39.688 seconds, 200.136 kph (124.388 mph)
2. Eddie Irvine, Britain, Ferrari, 1:40.635
3. David Coulthard, Britain, McLaren-Mercedes,1:40.806
4. Mika Hakkinen, Finland, McLaren-Mercedes, 1:40.866
5. Johnny Herbert, Britain, Stewart-Ford, 1:40.837
6. Rubens Barrichello, Brazil, Stewart-Ford, 1:41.351
7. Alexander Wurz, Austria, Benetton-Playlife, 1:41.444
8. Ralf Schumacher, Germany, Williams, 1:41.558
9. Damon Hill, Britain, Jordan-Mugen-Honda, 1:42.050
10, Jacques Villeneuve, Canada, BAR-Supertec, 1:42.087
11. Giancarlo Fisichella, Italy, Benetton-Playlife, 1:42.110
12. Olivier Panis, France, Prost-Peugeot, 1:42.208
13, Ricardo Zonta, Brazil, BAR-Supertec, 1:42.310
14. Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Germany, Jordan-Mugen-Honda, 1:42.380
15. Jean Alesi, France, Sauber-Petronas, 1:42.522
16. Alex Zanardi, Italy, Williams-Supertec, 1:42.885
17. Pedro Diniz, Brazil, Sauber-Petronas, 1:42.933
18. Jarno Trulli, Italy, Prost-Peugeot, 1:42.948
19. Marc Gene, Spain, Minardi-Ford, 1:43.563
20. Pedro De La Rosa, Spain, Arrows, 1:43.579
21. Luca Badoer, Italy, Minardi-Ford, 1:44.321
22. Toranosuke Takagi, Japan, Arrows, 1:44.637

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