Sunday, September 28, 2003

U.S. Grand Prix pole goes to Raikkonen


Formula One at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

The Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS - Kimi Raikkonen might not have to win the U.S. Grand Prix to remain in the chase for the Formula One championship.

It sure would help, though.

Raikkonen won the second pole of his career Saturday, giving him the top position and a huge advantage for the start of the 73-lap race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

"Of course it's a much better position, but the race is long. I still think we have a good strategy for the race, and I'm pretty sure we should have a strong race," said Raikkonen, who qualified his McLaren Mercedes in 1 minute, 11.670 seconds, or 130.839 mph over the 2.605-mile run.

Defending race winner Rubens Barrichello was second-fastest at 130.612.

Five-time series champion Michael Schumacher, Barrichello's Ferrari teammate, leads Juan Pablo Montoya by three points. He leads Raikkonen by seven with just two races left this season.

Schumacher qualified at 129.888 mph for seventh, giving him his first non-pole start in the four years since the race returned to Indianapolis.

"I'm not at all satisfied," Schumacher said of his qualifying position. "We're not sure what went wrong, but we were sliding too much and had no grip."

Schumacher has 82 points to Montoya's 79 and Raikkonen's 75. First place today is worth 10 points.

"We'll be interested to see what strategies the others adopt for the race," Schumacher said. "For us, it's important to understand what went wrong. Hopefully, by the end of the race, we can give the fans something to cheer about."

If Raikkonen wins, he would cut at least two points off Schumacher's lead; Raikkonen could take the points lead if Schumacher finishes no higher than seventh and Montoya ends up no better than fourth place.

The season ends Oct. 12 with the Japanese Grand Prix.

Olivier Panis qualified third at 130.384 mph, Montoya was fourth at 130.333, and Ralf Schumacher, Montoya's Williams teammate and Michael's younger brother, was fifth at 130.098.

"We could have done a little bit better, but that's what we've got and I am still confident we will have a good race ahead of us," Montoya said.

U.S. Grand Prix today

Where: Indianapolis.

Time/TV: 1:30 p.m./Speed Channel.

Track: Indianapolis Motor Speedway (road course, 2.606-miles, 13 turns).

Race distance: 190.238 miles, 73 laps.

Defending champ: Rubens Barrichello.

Fast fact: Ferrari is four points behind leader BMW-Williams in the constructors' title standings.

Driver standings

1. M. Schumacher 82
2. Juan P. Montoya 79
3. K. Raikkonen 75
4. R. Schumacher 58
5. R. Barrichello 55
5. F. Alonso 55
7. D. Coulthard 45
8. J. Trulli 24




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