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Last Updated: Saturday, 22 April 2006, 13:04 GMT 14:04 UK
Schumi breaks Senna pole record
GRID POSITIONS
Michael Schumacher's Ferrari in qualifying for the San Marino Grand Prix
1 M Schumacher 1:22.795
2 J Button 1:22.988
3 R Barrichello 1:23.242
4 F Massa 1:23.702
5 F Alonso 1:23.709
6 R Schumacher 1:23.772
7 JP Montoya 1:24.021
8 K Raikkonen 1:24.158
Michael Schumacher grabbed his 66th career pole position at the San Marino Grand Prix at Imola to break the late Ayrton Senna's all-time record.

The German's achievement came at the same track at which Senna won his final pole the day before the Brazilian was killed at this event in 1994.

Schumacher's Ferrari set a lap of one minute 22.795 seconds to beat Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello of Honda.

Ferrari's Felipe Massa was fourth ahead of world champion Fernando Alonso.

Senna's pole mark had been the only F1 performance record not held by Schumacher, who has now racked up more wins, championship titles, poles and points than any other driver in history.

With the car we had, getting a pole was sort of obvious
Michael Schumacher
Only Italian Riccardo Patrese's achievement of competing in 256 Grands Prix has so far escaped Schumacher, for whom this weekend marks his 233rd F1 race.

Schumacher, who was chasing Senna for the lead in the 1994 race when the Brazilian crashed to his death, said: "With the car we had, getting a pole was sort of obvious, but it is always great to start from pole.

"Obviously it has a special meaning to me but right now there is so much focus on what comes next that I don't pay too much attention to it.

"The record is less important for me - you look at records when you finish racing. I think we can show our very strong race pace."

Englishman Button earned a spot on the front row for the third race in succession but Honda team-mate Barrichello also impressed, shrugging off his poor form so far this season to earn third spot with a time of 1:23.24.

Button said: "We've done a lot of work overnight and really improved. We needed to because we were quite a long way off on Friday. I am much happier with the car now.

"We are reasonably happy we have solved a few of our issues, it's just whether we have solved them all. "I am hoping we have - I wouldn't be here smiling if not. This is only qualifying, Sunday's the main thing."

Ferrari and Honda's dominance on Saturday left Renault struggling as championship leader Alonso had to settle for fifth while Giancarlo Fisichella slumped out of the second knockout round.

SCHUMACHER MILESTONES
World titles: 7
(5 - Juan Manuel Fangio)
Race wins: 84
(51 - Alain Prost)
Pole positions: 66
(65 - Ayrton Senna)
Fastest laps: 69
(41 - Prost)
World champ points: 1,259
(798.5 - Prost)
Podium finishes: 143
(106 - Prost)
"The balance (of the car) is better than it was on Friday and feels correct for the race, so now we need to try and make up positions at the start," said Alonso.

Juan Pablo Montoya led McLaren's efforts, clocking 1:24.021 for seventh, ahead of team-mate Kimi Raikkonen.

Meanwhile Jarno Trulli snuck his Toyota into the final elimination round to claim ninth, while Mark Webber was 10th.

Fisichella was just 0.011secs outside the top 10 and had to watch the pole position shoot-out from the pits as he contemplated an 11th-place start.

Red Bull's David Coulthard also departed at that stage after earning 14th, behind Nico Rosberg who was forced to qualify in his spare car after a crash in practice.

The German avoided a grid penalty because his original engine was fitted into the spare Williams

It was also disappointment for Nick Heidfeld, who lost control of his BMW Sauber and smashed into a tyre wall, leaving him 15th on the grid.

Red Bull's Christian Klien, Scuderia Toro Rosso's Scott Speed, Tiago Monteiro and fellow Midland driver Christijan Albers, as well as Super Aguri's Takuma Sato and Yuji Ide, were all eliminated in the first round of qualifying.


San Marino GP qualifying times:

1 M Schumacher  (Ger) Ferrari  1:22.795
2 J Button      (GB)  Honda    1:22.988
3 R Barrichello (Brz) Honda    1:23.242
4 F Massa       (Brz) Ferrari  1:23.702
5 F Alonso      (Spa)  Renault  1:23.709
6 R Schumacher  (Ger) Toyota   1:23.772
7 JP Montoya    (Col) McLaren-Mercedes  1:24.021
8 K Raikkonen   (Fin) McLaren-Mercedes  1:24.158
9 J Trulli  (It)  Toyota   1:24.172
10 M Webber  (Aus) Williams-Cosworth  1:25.205

Second elimination session:
11 G Fisichella  (Ita)  Renault  1:23.711
12 J Villeneuve  (Can) BMW Sauber   1:23.877
13 N Rosberg     (Ger) Williams-Cosworth 1:23.966
14 D Coulthard   (GB)  Red Bull-Ferrari  1:24.101
15 N Heidfeld    (Ger) BMW Sauber   1:24.129
16 V Liuzzi      (Ita)  Toro Rosso-Cosworth   1:24.520

First elimination session:
17 C Klien       (Aut) Red Bull-Ferrari 1:25.410
18 S Speed       (USA) Toro Rosso-Cosworth  1:25.437
19 T Monteiro    (Por) Midland-Toyota  1:26.820
20 C Albers      (Ned) Midland-Toyota  1:27.088
21 T Sato        (Jpn) Super Aguri-Honda  1:27.609
21 Y Ide         (Jpn) Super Aguri-Honda   1:29.282



WATCH AND LISTEN
Report: BBC Five Live's David Croft



SEE ALSO
Imola qualifying as it happened
22 Apr 06 |  Formula One
Renault boss slates Honda errors
22 Apr 06 |  Formula One
Alonso & Schumi set pace at Imola
21 Apr 06 |  Formula One


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