By Andrew Benson
Motorsport editor at Silverstone
Michael Schumacher has leant weight to his belief that Ferrari can bounce back at the British Grand Prix from their recent poor performances by setting fastest time in first qualifying.
The world champion turned the tables on the Williams drivers who have dominated the last few races.
He was 0.275secs quicker than Juan Pablo Montoya, who was narrowly faster than Ralf Schumacher, winner of the last two Grands Prix.
Michael Schumacher's performance puts him in the potentially advantageous position of running last in Saturday's qualifying session, which decides grid positions for Sunday's race.
"I am reasonably happy and this was a good day for us," Michael Schumacher said.
"I am not surprised, as we had a successful test session here a few weeks ago.
"This performance is also the result of all the hard work the team did last week in getting new parts tested and ready for this weekend. Silverstone seems to suit our car."
Kimi Raikkonen, who is sandwiched between the two Schumachers in the championship battle, had the latest in a series of disastrous qualifying outings in his McLaren.
The Finn, who is eight points behind Michael Schumacher and three ahead of Ralf, was 11th fastest after suffering a couple of scary moments on his qualifying run.
Raikkonen twice nearly lost the car - once at the high-speed Becketts complex of sweepers and then at Stowe, a 120mph right-hander.
That left him 1.6secs off Michael Schumacher¿s pace.
Raikkonen said: "I have struggled a bit to get comfortable with the car, so we will be looking at where we can make improvements before Saturday."
Raikkonen's McLaren team-mate David Coulthard was seventh, behind the Renaults of Fernando Alonso and Jarno Trulli, who were split by Toyota driver Olivier Panis.
Jenson Button put in an impressive performance in the BAR-Honda to be ninth fastest - second fastest after Michael Schumacher of the drivers on Bridgestone tyres.
Button was half a second quicker than team-mate Jacques Villeneuve.
The second Ferrari of Rubens Barrichello was on course for a time close to Michael Schumacher¿s when he spun off at Brooklands towards the end of the lap.
The Brazilian will start qualifying first as a result of not recording a time.
British drivers Ralph Firman and Justin Wilson continued to have a miserable time.
Jordan driver Firman was 18th, with Wilson 20th and last in his Minardi.