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Last Updated: Saturday, 14 August, 2004, 13:01 GMT 14:01 UK
Schumacher cruises to pole
By Andrew Benson
Motorsport editor at the Hungaroring

Michael Schumacher
Michael Schumacher maintained his impressive form
Michael Schumacher is on course to win a record-breaking 12th race in a season after qualifying his Ferrari on pole position for the Hungarian Grand Prix.

The world champion set a blistering pace of one minute 19.146 seconds to leave his rivals trailing in his wake.

The German's team-mate Rubens Barrichello was second, 0.177secs behind Schumacher, and ahead of the BARs of Takuma Sato and Jenson Button.

McLaren's David Coulthard was 12th, two places behind team-mate Kimi Raikkonen.

Renault driver Fernando Alonso, who won this race last year, was fifth fastest, ahead of the Williams drivers Antonio Pizzonia and Juan Pablo Montoya.

Sauber's Giancarlo Fisichella was eighth fastest, ahead of Renault's Jarno Trulli and Raikkonen.

Several drivers had predicted this would be the most competitive race of the season, but Ferrari have looked as dominant as at any other Grand Prix.

Compared to last year, it's significantly better. We worked very hard for this result
Michael Schumacher

Part of that can be explained by the weather, which is markedly cooler than is usual at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

The race normally takes place in bright sunshine and in temperatures around 33C, but it was cloudy and 10 degrees cooler on Saturday at the Hungaroring.

Hotter temperatures favour the Michelin tyres used by Ferrari's rivals, so the cooler weather has played into Ferrari's hands.

The pace of the McLarens was particularly disappointing - even Schumacher said he was expecting them to be quicker after their strong performances in recent races.

"This is what you would have expected with the exception of the McLarens, but maybe they are on a different strategy, we will find out tomorrow. But you would expect the BARs and the Renaults to be quick," Schumacher said.

The German said he was not surprised to improve so much on Ferrari's performance in Hungary last year, when they qualified fifth and eighth and Schumacher was lapped in the race.

"Compared to last year, it's significantly better.

BAR's Takuma Sato
Sato was delighted with his third place on the grid

"We obviously worked very hard for this result. We pushed very hard in the last test session in Jerez (last month), where it was very hot and it was great preparation for Hungary and this is the result.

Sato ran wide at one of the track's fastest corners on his lap but he said it did not cost him a chance at pole position.

"I dropped the wheel a little bit and lost a few tenths," he said, "but it wouldn't be reaching the front row anyway so I am very happy to be on the second row."

Sato said he was pleased to be competitive again after three poor races.

"After Indy (the US Grand Prix in June) we struggled for speed," Sato said, "but in Germany we came back on the pace and here we are again. It was a very good step forward and we are very happy with it."

Raikkonen underlines intent
13 Aug 04  |  Formula One
Button expresses optimism
12 Aug 04  |  Formula One
Coulthard keen to drive on
12 Aug 04  |  Motorsport
Button 'crazy' to leave BAR
12 Aug 04  |  Formula One
Renault hopeful for Hungary
09 Aug 04  |  Formula One

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