Saturday, October 30, 1999 Published at 06:31 GMT 07:31 UK
Irvine looks for helping hand
Eddie Irvine gets out of his car after spinning off in qualifying
Ferrari's Michael Schumacher has claimed pole position for Sunday's championship decider in Japan - and given a crucial boost to troubled team-mate Eddie Irvine.
Championship leader Irvine crashed out of qualifying and eventually limped to fifth place on the grid after a terrible morning.
And the German promised to support his team-mate's title challenge: "I will give him all my data and will help him all I can, but Eddie will have to drive the car himself," said Schumacher, who was a massive 1.5seconds ahead of Irvine.
"I don't know why Eddie is not getting to grips with the circuit. If there are any number one parts for the car he has them although the best way for me to help him and Ferrari is to win tomorrow's race."
Irvine goes into the Suzuka showdown just four points ahead of Hakkinen.
The pressure of trying to become Ferrari's first champion for 20 years seemed to get to him as he put in a string of disappointing drives.
But for the brilliance of two-time champion Schumacher - who marked his comeback from injury with a second successive pole - Irvine would have seen Hakkinen gain a massive psychological advantage.
Despite his disappointing display, Irvine said: "I can still do it. But it is 50/50 the way I see it. It is going to be a weird race.
"I have got the "A" team on my side in Michael and Ross Brawn (technical director). In Michael I have got the best guy, that's for sure.
Schumacher took the 23rd pole of his career by just 0.3-of-a-second from the Finn, whose chances of snatching his 12th pole of the season were wrecked in a dramatic incident at the last chicane.
The 31-year-old gesticulated before continuing but by then he had no chance of beating Schumacher.
"I don't know what words to use about that situation," said Hakkinen. "It is not something you expect from a driver of that experience.
"I think I could have improved my time if it had not happened. Jean was coming to close to me."
Meanwhile Jordan's Heinz-Harald Frentzen snatched fourth spot behind McLaren's David Coulthard by just a couple of tenths of a second.
Former champion Damon Hill will start the final race of his career from 12th spot in the other Jordan while Johnny Herbert was eighth in the Stewart Ford.
1 M Schumacher (Ger) Ferrari 1min 37.470secs
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